Heel pain spurs surprise medical bill for central Ohio man

Better Call Jackson

It’s a case of hospital bill sticker shock. A central Ohio man was given a high hospital bill for treatment he said he never received. While fighting the hospital over the amount, he turned to Better Call Jackson to get answers. 

“It’s ridiculous,” Wayne Auten said of the way he is being treated by a local hospital. Not long ago he was new to the central Ohio area and did not yet have a family doctor, so he went to the Diley Ridge Medical Center Emergency Room in Canal Winchester for a health issue he had had before.

“I told the technician I have a spur in my heel, and I need a shot of cortisone,” Auten said.

Workers at the hospital took an X-ray but then gave him some bad news.

“They said well we can’t give you a cortisone shot because you have to go to (a special) doctor for that, and that was it,” Auten continued, “I never talked to a physician.”

Auten left and drove to his hometown a few hours away to get the treatment he needed, but a few weeks later he got a surprise in the mail. A bill for $517 dollars. A bill he believed was excessively high for a simple X-ray. 

Better Call Jackson found out the Diley Ridge ER is part of Mount Carmel Health System. “Anybody that approaches our doors, we are going to see them,” Dr. Al Gora with the hospital said. 

The hospital legally cannot discuss patient information but according to Dr. Gora getting care in the emergency department is usually the most expensive, no matter the treatment.

“There is a cost associated with the resources and the expertise associated with the emergency department,” Dr. Gora said.  

Doctors also have oversight over all patients, even ones they don’t see face to face. The hospital advises all patients worried about their health to seek help right away, but to prevent hospital bill sticker shock, Dr. Gora advises people to get help at the appropriate level, like an urgent care, or family doctor.

“If they recognize that their problem is something they have had before, that potentially can wait, and that is not always easy, another access point may be more appropriate,” Dr. Gora said. 

According to Mount Carmel Hospital, there are also ways for patients to get financial help to those who qualify. The hospital encourages anyone with questions about their bill to contact them. 

As for Auten, after Better Call Jackson got involved he is currently in talks with the hospital on settling the bill, and told us he is, “Satisfied” with the result.

He hopes in the future, other patients are not stuck footing a high bill, they did not expect.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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