She Had a Routine Throat Swab. The Bill Was $28K

NPR looks at a particularly outrageous medical bill of a Brooklyn woman
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2019 11:05 AM CST
Updated Dec 28, 2019 7:30 AM CST
She Had a Routine Throat Swab. The Bill Was $28K
Stock photo.   (Getty/cat-scape)

NPR puts the focus on crazy medical bills in its "Bill of the Month" feature, and the latest is a doozy. A Brooklyn woman felt a cold coming on ahead of her vacation and went to the doctor to make sure it wasn't strep. She had a routine throat swab, gave a blood sample, and left with a prescription for antibiotics. The resulting bill: $28,395.50. Insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota covered $25,865.24, and the doctor's office waived patient Alexa Kasdan's portion of the remainder. Still, Kasdan is complaining about the system that produced such a bill, and NPR digs in for possible explanations. For one thing, the tests ordered were elaborate and, in the eyes of an outside doctor, unnecessary. "In my 20 years of being a doctor, I've never ordered any of these tests," she says.

Also, the tests were sent to a lab outside of Kasdan's insurance network. And Finally, the lab in question, Manhattan Gastroenterology, appears to be affiliated with Kasdan's physician, Dr. Roya Fathollahi, because they share phone numbers and addresses. Fathollahi declined to comment, though her office told Kasdan that nothing was out of the ordinary about the tests or the bill. The bottom line: Patients are advised to ask questions about what tests are being ordered and to try to steer them toward labs within their own insurance network. Read the full story here. (More medical bills stories.)

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