8 On Your Side saves woman $61K in medical bills - 8 News NOW

8 On Your Side saves woman $61,000 in medical bills

8 On Your Side saves woman $61K in medical bills

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LAS VEGAS -- All of us have probably gotten an outrageous medical bill at some point in our lives. But what do you do when you think the bill is completely unjustified? One woman called Michelle Mortensen with 8 On Your Side and saved thousands of dollars.

Believe it or not, when it comes to medical bills, a lot of it is negotiable. But before you even get to the bargaining table, you have to make sure your bill is accurate and doesn't have any unnecessary charges. 8 On Your Side's Michelle Mortensen saw this first hand when she helped one valley woman battle a local hospital over one giant bill.

"I got a letter stating that my bill was $71,000 and I was just completely and utterly shocked," said Christie Kalua Hendricks.

Shocked is the only word she could come up with to describe the feeling she had when the bill showed up, months after a short emergency room visit to Desert Springs Hospital.

In February, Hendricks' diabetes turned deadly. She needed immediate medical attention because she was suffering from ketoacidosis.

"If you don't treat it properly or fast enough, you could die," she said.

She went to the emergency room where she ended up being admitted. She was released two days later. She never saw a bill until she received a letter stating she owed $71,000.

Desperate for help and confused about what she was paying for, she turned to 8 On Your Side.

"I have seen stories of you helping people in extreme situations, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it myself," Hendricks said.

8 On Your Side had Hendricks request an itemized bill for her hospital stay. A patient is always entitled to a copy of that. Once the bill arrived, the math didn't add up. The itemized bill showed she owed $22,689 and even though that was a $48,000 savings, it was suspected there might be more errors. Medical Billing Advocates of America took a look at the bill. It's a company in Virginia that analyzes bills for unnecessary charges.

Pat Palmer, the founder of Medical Billing Advocates of America, said the hospital was charging for items that are not billable. She said the bill should have been closer to $15,000. In addition, because Hendricks is uninsured, by law, she was entitled to an additional 30 percent off. Desert Springs Hospital officials did not provide an explanation for the large bill, but said it is their policy to give a 60 percent discount for uninsured patients, which brought Hendricks' bill to around $9,000. It was a savings of $61,000 from her original bill.

"Oh I just can't apologize enough. Where could this have come from? I mean it was a flat out mistake," Hendricks said.

Palmer said most hospital charges can be made up with no rhyme or reason. So, if you get a hospital bill, ask for an itemized copy and go through it very carefully. Ask if discounts are available. 

You can always ask 8 On Your Side for help. Just call on the hotline anytime for help (702) 650-1907.

This recent savings brings the total of money 8 On Your Side has saved southern Nevadans to $365,883.

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