LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — James Sweeney has health insurance, but after spending more than 100 days in the hospital battling COVID-19, he now faces a bill of more than $80,000.
Sweeney, 63, was unconscious and on a ventilator at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena Campus in Henderson, from November 2020 to February 2021. When he awoke, he said he asked about his bills, professionals told him that insurance was covering it.
“I asked to see a doctor and case manager because I was worried about the bills even then,” recalled Sweeney.
But when the actual bill arrived, it showed a long list of out-of-network claims, which his insurance would not cover. As a result, Sweeney says he now owes more than $80,000 to providers.
“This week has been really tough,” said Sweeney. “I haven’t slept well any night. I keep waking up every night, trying to figure out how I’m going to cover these bills.”
Sweeney claims the total billed cost of his stay was around $2 million. In addition, Sweeney said his insurance company told him that although the hospital was in his network, the doctors who treated him were not.
Insurance broker Patrick Casale specializes in such cases. He said Sweeney is not at fault.
“The doctors know if they are providers or not, so does the hospital, and the facility should definitely send in doctors to coordinate that care better,” said Casale.
Casale said when it comes to critical care involving life or death, insurance is supposed to cover all costs. He said families who find themselves in similar situations could fight such claims.
St. Rose Dominican Sienna Hospital released a statement acknowledging that health care should be affordable for all people but that the hospital cannot intervene in a billing matter between the patient and his insurance.
“We recognize how frustrating and concerning an unexpected medical bill is for patients. Dignity Health believes that access to health care is a basic human right that should be available and affordable for all people. We treat all patients seeking medically necessary urgent or emergency care, regardless of their ability to pay. As the billing issue in question is between Sound Intensivists and the patient’s insurance, we are unable to speak to any interaction or discussion between those entities. We have taken steps to bring this issue to the attention of Sound and the insurance company and recommend this issue be revisited.”Gordon M. Absher, Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals EXTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
The Sweeney family is now trying to raise enough money to offset some of those medical bills.