Patient says she was price gouged at hospital

Posted at 2:42 AM, Sep 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-30 02:42:39-04

It’s a case of hospital sticker shock in the ER. A Bay Area woman’s trip to the hospital costs her $111 per minute.

Included in her bill was a series of CT scans that cost nearly $36,000.

The patient says she moved to Florida from New England to get away from the high costs of living in her retirement, but now she's got a big bill hanging over her head.

“Somebody rear ended me going 50 miles an hour,” said Wendy Hunt, whose car was totaled in a crash in April.

She was not seriously hurt.

“It was not a big deal. There was nothing broken. Everything was fine,” she said.

Hunt went to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point to get checked out, where she was given CT scans on her neck, head and spine.

“I was in the hospital for six hours, it was $40,000,” Hunt said. “$36,000 of which were the CT scans.”

The website Healthcare Bluebook lists a fair price for those scans in the Bay area at around $550 each.

Bayonet Point, which is owned by HCA, was named one of the 50 costliest hospitals in America in a recent John Hopkins University study.

“You can put down a payment on a house for $36,000,” Hunt said.  

In fact, using a real estate app, we found a two-bedroom, two-bath, 950 square foot condo for sale two miles from Hunt's home for just $40,000.

The I-Team has uncovered she's not the only one to be charged high prices for emergency care at Bayonet Point.

Last year, 17-year-old Mason Jwanouskos's family was billed $99,000 for treatment of a minor concussion when he spent less than 24 hours in the hospital.

“He did not have broken bones or open injuries or was unconscious,” said Mason’s father Bruce Jwanouskos.

Just last week, we told you how Karen Ford went to Oak Hill hospital for a stomach ache and was billed more than $24,000 for a CT scans and blood work that took less than two hours.

“It was not justified for what happened. It just wasn't,” Ford said.

Governor Rick Scott announced plans Monday to stop price gouging by hospitals, after 20 Florida hospitals made the 50 most costly list in the John Hopkins study.

Hunt says those safeguards are long overdue.

“Every time I looked at it, at the $40,000, I was like, this is wrong, this is just wrong,” Hunt said.

The Governor's plan calls for requiring hospitals to post prices, average payments and IRS reports on their websites.

A Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point spokesperson said he could not discuss specific patients’ bills without a signed waiver, which Hunt has not yet provided.

He did say, in general terms, “sometimes a statement of benefits can be mistaken for a bill when perhaps either health or auto insurance may still be in the process of working out what they will cover.”

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