Fort Worth

$10,000 Hospital Bill Adds Insult to Injury for COVID-19 Patient

NBCUniversal, Inc.

It’s been nearly a month since Will Horn was released from JPS Hospital.

He spent all but one of his five days there in isolation in the ICU being treated for pneumonia.

Though test results showing he was positive for COVID-19 wouldn’t arrive until he was already home, he said doctors told him he was showing all of the signs.

In the weeks since, Horn said the body aches, fever, fatigue, and struggle for air has slowly disappeared. In their absence, he’s noticed something else surface.

“Anxiety, feelings of survivor’s guilt, the depression, all of these kinds of things, and then I begin to think as well, what is this going to cost?” said Will Horn.

He got his answer this week when a bill for more than $17,000 arrived.

It shows a courtesy adjustment he said was made because he’s a full-time student at Texas Christian University. That left him with a balance of $10,526.40.

“I wasn’t being irresponsible, I wasn’t gambling, I wasn’t making risky investments. I got sick, and I got a really big bill that I did not budget for,” said Horn.

Horn said he was surprised by the bill, having read the government and insurance companies were pledging to cover the cost of the virus’ impact.

A spokesperson from John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth told NBC 5 that the hospital is not charging people for COVID-19 treatment. On every JPS bill sent to patients is a phone number to call for questions. Those with questions about a bill, or who feel like the bill is a mistake, are asked to call that number.

But experts told NBC News that in a complicated healthcare system, there are gaps and sometimes mistakes in billing are made.

“I was in the hospital a relatively short time. There are some people who there for two weeks or longer, and they’re going to get some bills that are going to be devastating,” said Horn.

Horn went on to say that he hopes his story of financial hardship in addition to illness will be yet another reason to convince people to take COVID-19 seriously.

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