APPOMATTOX, va. -- Scott Meyerhoffer of Appomattox is one of the millions of Americans who sought a COVID-19 test last spring believing the cost would be covered by his insurance plan.
For Meyerhoffer though, multiple bills totaling nearly $1,200 arrived despite most healthcare providers pledging to make testing free to patients.
“Weeks go by. Months go by. I haven’t heard from anybody so I call back again,” Meyerhoffer said of his repeated attempts to appeal the bills.
The Problem Solvers reviewed three bills sent to Meyerhoffer from an urgent care clinic, the hospital he was referred to by the urgent care team, and a doctor who treated him at the emergency room.
The itemized invoices charged for things such as an isolation cart, blood testing, an electrocardiogram, and a Level 5 emergency room visit.
Notably absent was any billing code indicating the administration of a COVID-19 test.
“The first thing we did was call the COVID-19 hotline to ask if I needed a test,” Meyerhoffer told the Problem Solvers.
His symptoms included fever, cough, and shortness of breath, so he was directed to Centra Urgent Care in Lynchburg.
His visit on April 6 was explicitly for that COVID-19 evaluation, during which an X-ray revealed areas of concern in his lungs.
“They said, ‘this is how COVID first presents,’ and she said, ‘You likely have COVID,’” recalled Meyerhoffer of his conversation with the urgent care medical team. “They said, ‘Our recommendation is you go to the emergency room because, with your type of case, I've seen them go south quickly. We'd rather have you there in a facility that can deal with it.’”
While his wife waited in the car for hours, Meyerhoffer walked into the emergency room at Lynchburg General Hospital.
He said the staff immediately began an IV and isolated him from other patients.
Expecting to be admitted, Meyerhoffer was surprised to be sent home shortly after a nurse swabbed the back of his throat and instructed him to quarantine at home.
“Someone from the hospital, about two or three days after my visit, did call me and say I had a negative test result," he said.
Those results never made it to his insurance company, Piedmont Community Health Plan, which denied his appeal for coverage.
In a letter dated December 9, 2020, PCHP stated clinical information submitted for his visits indicated a diagnosis of viral pneumonia but no test or diagnosis of COVID-19 at either location.
The Problem Solvers contacted PCHP and Centra, the parent company for Lynchburg General Hospital.
Representatives for both agreed to take another look at the case, noting Meyerhoffer’s illness occurred in the early days of the pandemic when the healthcare industry was implementing new policies and practices.
This week, Meyerhoffer said Centra contacted him with word his bills would be taken care of. A spokesperson for PCHP emailed the following statement to CBS 6:
“COVID-19 has placed numerous challenges on an already complex healthcare system. Piedmont’s goal, which we work hard to achieve, is that our members receive all their entitled benefits in as easy a manner as possible. This situation will be corrected.”
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