Man on kidney dialysis who was billed $540K for 14 weeks of care now owes $0 after journalists get involved

Man on kidney dialysis who was billed $540K for 14 weeks of care now owes $0 after journalists get involved
© CBS News

A Montana man billed more than $500,000 for dialysis after receiving 14 weeks of treatment at a Fresenius clinic now owes nothing after journalists launched an investigation into his bill. 

According to NPR News, the investigation released this week was the latest rolled out under its "Bill of the Month" series with Kaiser Health News and CBS This Morning.

On its website, Kaiser Health News stated that the series selects one bill a month “to investigate what’s behind those numbers, asking providers, insurers and experts for explanations." 

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It’s most recent investigation was centered around the staggering bill charged to 50-year-old Sovereign Valentine from Plains, Mont.

After suffering a kidney failure earlier this year, Valentine was sent to a Fresenius clinic in Missoula for care. There, he and his wife were reportedly charged $524,600.17 after their insurer, Allegiance, paid $16,241.73. 

It wasn’t discovered until after journalists launched an investigation into the bill that the Valentines were incorrectly billed as out-of-network patients.

According to NPR News, because Allegiance is a subsidiary of Cigna Corp., Valentine should have been billed as an in-network patient and his insurance provider should have been charged a higher amount. 

"In the future, we pledge to better identify situations where we believe the insurer has incorrectly classified one of our facilities as being out of network," a spokesperson for Fresenius told NPR News in a statement.

"This will allow us to address the matter directly with the insurer in the first instance, without them placing the patient in the middle,” he continued.

After his bill was updated, Valentine and his wife only owed a $5,000 deductible. But since Valentine has already reached that mark this year, he and his wife only owe $0.

Valentine called the news a “huge relief” in an interview with NPR News.

"It allows me to put more energy back into just taking care of my health and not having stress hormones raging,” he continued.