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TROUBLESHOOTERS: Woman compares hospitals letter to buying a pair of shoes before trying it on

Hospital visits can be stressful even if it’s just for a test, but what if you had to pay before your procedure?

A local woman says that’s what happened to her, so she reached out to Jessica Cook.

The letter Virginia Parish received is dated May 14th, 2019.

It was sent to Parish’s Lacon home from UnityPoint Health.

“You’re trying to get mentally and emotionally prepared for it and then I get this letter from Methodist which put financial pressures on me and really made me very upset and angry.” said Parish.

The letter was for a procedure she was having May 20th.

It states the estimated hospital service charge was $26,541.00

Parish’s projected out of pocket cost was $1,248.55.

Parish said she’s been going to Methodist for years and has never been sent a letter like this.

It states in part…”Below you will find an out-of-pocket estimate for the hospital portion of your upcoming visit, based upon benefit information from your insurer.”

Parish said, “I called UMR…I said, Did you talk to them about co-insurance or deductibles on my part? and he said no.”

The letter also stated “Per our financial policies, we request that you make a deposit prior to or at time of service.”

Parish said it isn’t about the money.

“They want their money before you ever get the procedure or the test and I don’t think that’s ethically or morally right.”

Besides sharing her story with Jessica Cook, Parish said she reached out to Darin LaHood’s office, the Illinois Insurance Commission, and the White House.

She said she asked to speak to UnityPoint Health’s Vice President and Regional Chief Quality Officer Gary Knepp, but was transferred to an advocate.

Parish claimed the advocate agreed with her thoughts on the letter.

“This was supposed to be a new procedure or new courtesy thing to help patients, but I didn’t take it that way.”

Parish compared the situation to being asked to pay for a pair of shoes before trying them on.

“I just hope nobody else has to go through what I did…how I felt and it just raised my blood pressure so high that I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t just keep talking about it and doing nothing.”

The 64-year-old woman says she’d like the letter to have different wording.

“They could’ve written something like ‘We have come up with a new policy or procedure to advise the patient of estimated cost of test and out of pocket expenses. This is for information only. You do not need to pay anything at this time.”

Parish said all in all it came down to the timing of the letter.

Below is a full statement from UnityPoint Health:

“In an effort to increase transparency, UnityPoint Health contacts patients prior to their scheduled procedures to provide education on costs and discuss payment, whenever possible. This transparency, which is an industry best practice, helps patients better understand costs prior to their procedure and allows them to concentrate on recovery following their procedure. UnityPoint Health provides patients the option to pay their deposit in advance or at the time of service. An advance deposit payment is not a requirement.”


Jessica Cook

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