A HUGE BILL ARRIVED TWO AND A HALF YEARS AFTER A VISIT TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM: WHAT TO DO?
When Junko Arita, single mother of two, went to the emergency room in 2015, she was seeking treatment for an asthma attack. She gave hospital administration her insurance cards, one for hospital charges and one for medical charges. But the hospital got the claims mixed up. Two and a half years later Arita received a bill for $5,134. And only weeks later the bill was sent to collections.
“The bill was just too big to swallow,” Arita stated, feeling intimidated by her insurance company. She was fearful of debt collectors, but could not afford to pay this bill and support her children. Arita made a formal appeal to the hospital but got no response. Her union advised her to start calling, and keep calling the billing office, until she got a straight answer about the bills. Despite her attempts, she got no response.
When a hospital representative finally called Arita, the representative had no information. He said that a supervisor would call her back, but that did not happen either. Exasperated, she sought help from a patient advocate. Her advocate submitted an online complaint to the Attorney General’s Healthcare Division. A few weeks later, the A.G.’s office and the hospital notified Arita that she would no longer be held responsible for the bill.