Patient contesting hefty price tag for CT scan by local hospital - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Patient contesting hefty price tag for CT scan by local hospital

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A year ago, Michael Hoover had an incisional hernia that required a CT scan.

He was referred to radiology at Palmetto Health Parkridge Outpatient Diagnostic Center. There, he was charged $5,491.

"I figured there had been a mistake of some sort," Hoover said.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. According to Palmetto Health, prices vary depending on a number of factors. Basically, it breaks down to what the hospital determines as the cost of resources minus the patient's insurance. 

At the time, Hoover did not have insurance. However, Palmetto Health offered financial assistance to help.

In an e-mailed statement, Palmetto Health said, "Our financial counselors are able to provide an estimate of a patient's financial responsibility for any service or procedure provided by Palmetto Health before delivering the service or procedure." The hospital went on to say, they are "prepared to arrange payment options for patients prior to or at the time of service."

"I really don't feel good taking your assistance when you're going to go out and do this to  someone else," Hoover said. "I just don't think what you've charged me is fair."

Palmetto Health could not provide information specific to Hoover's case due to HIPAA guidelines but said: "There is a national push to simplify the way patients are billed for health care services and Palmetto Health is an active participant in that important work."

A few months ago, Hoover had another hernia and needed another CT scan. This time, he went to InMed Diagnostic Services in downtown Columbia.

"I asked them, if I did not have insurance, how much would this cost me?" Hoover recalled. "It was definitely less than $400."

Hoover says InMed charged more than $5,000 less than Palmetto Health.

The South Carolina Hospital Association says hospitals set their fees, in part, based on what's needed to cover operating expenses. In a statement to WIS, the agency said, "What a patient ultimately pays for a service provided at the hospital depends more on his insurance coverage than on the charge."

"I realize they're a hospital, a hospital system and I realize they're probably going to need to charge more than a specialty facility," said Hoover. "If they want to double it -- charge $800 I'll unhappily but acceptably pay that."

Moving forward, Hoover said he will do his research first and wants others to consider doing the same.

"You have options that are your responsibility to look into so you don't find yourself in the same financial mess and battle that I'm in." While Hoover did get the first CT scan with the hospital, he says he has no plans to pay Palmetto Health until this issue is resolved and they consider substantially lowering the cost.

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