Hospital Bill Adjusted Years After Patient’s Death

( – Kent Reynolds, 62, fought colon cancer for years with the help of chemotherapy. While the treatment can put people into remission, it can also do damage to their bodies. In February 2022, Reynolds decided he was through with treatments and died a month later. His widow recently received a shocking bill.

According to an NPR exclusive, Eloise Reynolds paid off her husband’s final medical expenses the summer after he died. She explained that before he passed away, he was too weak to receive his routine chemo and was admitted to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Physicians found a bowel blockage that she thought would be resolved and would allow him to continue treatment. Then he decided to stop treatment and later died.

Mrs. Reynolds said she later received a bill for the hospital stay totaling $823.15. She paid it on June 30, 2022. Sometime later, another one came in the mail. The new statement was for $1,093.16 — for the same services.

After making calls, Reynolds was told she was enrolled in a monthly installment plan and had to make the payment. She said nobody could explain it in a way that made any sense. An employee for BJC HealthCare told her that they’d accidentally overbilled the insurance company and refunded them. That left a balance for Reynolds to pay. So, she reviewed both bills and saw that the total on each was the same. However, the amount paid by the insurance company and the adjustments were different.

After Reynolds went to the press, BJC HealthCare suddenly decided the bill was a “clerical error” and said she no longer owed anything. Research scientist Erin Duffy, who works for the University of Southern California’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, speculated that it was not an error at all, but was instead a common billing practice. Duffy didn’t have proof of that.

Experts suggest patients never pay a medical bill until they have an itemized statement and an explanation of benefits (EOB) from their insurance company.

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