Patient sues North Carolina health system, alleging unfair billing practices

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A patient has filed a lawsuit against Vidant Health, based in Greenville, North Carolina, alleging the 1,477-bed system engaged in deceptive billing and debt collection practices.

In the trial, deposit On February 18, plaintiff George Cansler alleges that the health system and debt collection agency FirstPoint Collection Resources violated several state laws, including the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Specifically, Mr. Cansler alleges that Vidant Health and FirstPoint “used and continue to use an unfair and deceptive scheme designed to extract undisclosed and unreasonably high prices from patients.”

According to the lawsuit, Mr Cansler visited the emergency room at Vidant Chowan Hospital in Edenton, North Carolina, in 2018 for extreme pain stemming from a probable kidney stone. More than a year after his visit, Mr. Cansler received a bill from Vidant asking him to pay $3,119 for a CT scan, a rate 11 times what Medicare paid for the service in 2018. The complaint alleges that the rate for many common procedures is at least 10 times higher than the Medicare rate.

The complaint also alleges that Mr. Cansler was not told the price beforehand and that Vidant executives told him it was a violation of federal law to disclose the price to patients before providing ER care. .

“Vidant made it impossible for patients to make an informed financial decision about their care, and patients could not – and did not – voluntarily consent to pay Vidant’s unreasonable and undisclosed prices,” the complaint states.

The complaint further alleges that Vidant “aggravated the financial harm” by “harassing” patients to pay high bills and sending accounts to collections, threatening their credit score.

Plaintiff asks the court to certify the lawsuit as a class action, to require Vidant to reimburse residents who were overbilled, and to end these allegedly deceptive surprise billing and debt collection practices.

“The narrative presented in the press release promoting a class action lawsuit is inconsistent with Vidant Health’s values ​​as a patient-centered, mission-driven, non-profit organization,” Vidant Health said in a statement. “It is important to note that all Vidant hospitals are fully compliant with all federal regulations regarding price transparency as confirmed by the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Vidant is confident that its policies, which comply with all state and federal rules and regulations, were properly followed in this instance. Vidant is committed to partnering with patients to ensure they have the support they need to complete their healthcare journeys. In addition to a dedicated team of case managers who help patients understand their bills, establish payment plans and provide charitable care in all applicable cases, Vidant has transparent pricing resources available online for all patient or potential patient to consult.

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