By Consumers For Quality Care, on June 3, 2020
ABC Denver reports on the story of Ernesto Castro, who survived COVID-19 after spending days in a coma and hooked up to a ventilator.
For weeks, Castro feared getting the bill for his hospital stay. He received letters from his private health insurance company, hospital notifications, and calls from his case manager.
He remembers his heart pounding and his hands shaking as he opened the letter. When he read the line, “patient’s responsibility: $139,254.16,” he broke down. His insurance denied all of his medical expenses.
Castro was in the hospital for ten days battling the coronavirus. Six of those days were spent in a coma and on a ventilator.
After the initial shock from his bill faded, Castro called his insurance company and says they questioned why he was in the hospital. He explained that his stay was a result of the coronavirus and was told that the hospital failed to bill the medical expenses under COVID-19. The hospital confirmed they were reviewing his case.
According to Vincent Plymell, assistant commissioner with the Colorado Division of Insurance, most people should be protected from surprise medical bills related to COVID-19 under two circumstances:
- If their insurance is regulated by the Colorado Division of Insurance, it will fall under the emergency regulation which provides patient protections.
- If a hospital received CARES act funding, they are prohibited from sending surprise bills for COVID-19 treatment.
Plymell says most insurance companies have also waived cost-sharing expenses related to COVID-19.
While Castro is unsure of the status of his bill, he says he will reach out to the Colorado Division of Insurance to help him navigate his medical expenses.