OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — If you’ve received medical care, odds are you’ve been surprised at the mailbox too, with a bill asking you to cover some of the costs, even if you have insurance.
Rod Kammrad experienced this surprise bill after he fell into a fire pit, leaving his arms and back badly burned.
“Within seconds I had third degree burns on my back and my arm,” Kammrad said.
His family rushed him to the emergency room at Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Iowa. Doctors worked to get pain under control and decided to send him to a burn unit.
Kammrad was admitted to CHI Health St. Elizabeth burn unit in Lincoln. He spent two weeks there receiving treatment, was released, then went back for a second surgery.
Then, the bills started to come – totaling $350,000.
“I started wondering, well why am I getting all these high bills when I had insurance? Turns out St. Elizabeth in Lincoln is not an in-network hospital,” Kammrad told KETV.
He said the emergency room in Onawa, and St. Elizabeth’s had his Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance card from the start of his treatment.
Because he was out-of-network, Kammrad told KETV B.C.B.S sent him checks, but said it wasn’t enough to cover the expenses, still leaving him with a big bill.
Kammrad said he called both CHI Health and B.C.B.S. several times to get answers, but never got anywhere. So, he called KETV Investigates.
Surprise billing impacts about 20% of healthcare patients.
The CHI Health Chief Financial Officer explained to KETV how it can get so confusing, “We aren’t looking at insurance and things like that in an emergency, we are saying, bring them here, we can care for you, we are the best ones.”
Jeanette Wojtalewicz got involved to help Rod after we got involved, and helped him work through his case.
She told KETV if patients want certain answers, keep calling CHI Health and your insurance company. Most times, she said, CHI Health will help, especially when it involves an emergency.
“There’s always a lot of gray area and interpretation. That’s where it’s important to get on the phone and talk with us and your insurance company to advocate for the situation and the appropriate coverage,” Wojtalewicz said.
Now, Kammrad will have to pay his out-of-pocket maximum, which amounts to a little over $8,000, giving him peace of mind and the ability to retire on time.
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