NBC 5 Responds

What You Should Know Before Giving Your Hospital a Deposit

NBCUniversal, Inc.

More hospitals are pushing patients to pay a deposit in advance of surgery or medical treatment and sometimes that deposit can be pricey.

But what happens when you pay and the bill is much less? You should get a refund, right?

Heather Maloney tells NBC 5 Responds she spent months trying to get her money back from a hospital. When they denied her, she turned to NBC 5 Responds for help.

“I scheduled a procedure at Baylor Scott and White for February 23,” said Wylie resident, Maloney.

Maloney needed to have surgery and trusted Baylor Scott and White in Frisco to do the job.

“I got a call the day before my surgery on February 22, and they requested payment in advance before the procedure. It was approximately $1500 dollars they were estimating. I thought it was a bit high. But they required that amount at that time,” Maloney told NBC 5.

A month later she received an explanation of benefits for insurance and it turns out that the procedure didn’t cost $1500—it was only $290!

I called the billing office for Baylor, Scott and White to request a refund of my overpayment. They said they would get back to me within approximately 10 business days however I never heard back from them,” said Maloney.

The billing department tells Maloney they applied her refund to an old balance—from more than 11 years ago!

“I was kind of shocked that they took money that I had paid in good faith for a specific procedure and applied it to their books,” said Maloney.

Doug Aldeen is an Austin-based attorney that specializes in medical billing and explains a hospital can’t collect debt that old.

“Your statute of limitations in Texas is four years, so whatever contract was in place when you signed, I mean, technically they're not able to pursue you,” explained Aldeen.

“They never even really got into proving the debt with me. They just said this was for an old balance. You actually owe more than what we are keeping and we’re going to apply it to this old balance,” said Maloney.

NBC 5 Responds contacted the hospital about Maloney’s refund and if they could provide more details for the old debt.

In a written statement, a spokeswoman for the hospital wrote, “While we cannot speak to specifics, given patient privacy laws, we can tell you that we are committed to improving the patient experience. With respect to billing issues, we work closely with patients to provide help and find resolution.”

While they wouldn’t explain what the old debt was for, they refunded Maloney $1,210.

“I'd just like to thank NBC 5 for going to bat and helping me with a hospital billing issue that was costing me a significant amount of money,” said Maloney.

If your hospital tries to charge you a deposit here’s what you do:

  • Call the insurance company to see what type of coverage you have for that particular procedure. Ask them how much you should pay. 
  • Request itemized list from the hospital in advance and compare that with your insurance company to verify the charges.
  • You can also request to see the hospital’s billing code now as a CPT, Current Procedural Terminology.

“Call the insurance company. Do you really need to do this? OK, which typically don't. OK, you need an itemization. What services are you going to provide attached to what CPT codes? Because that's going to give you in terms of what those prices are and you're going to be able to cross-reference that with hopefully if they've complied with the price transparency rules,” said Aldeen.

NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and a resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our customer complaint form.

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