A 19-year-old woman was driving in Austin, Texas, in January when she took a test for COVID-19. An emergency room worker administered the test and gave the woman a prescription for the prescription, which contains an alternative hormone for treating an ovarian cyst that has formed in her stomach. The woman’s mother called the office asking whether they had an appropriate brand, and the worker identified a “Fortune 1000” brand for the woman, or Essure.
Later, when the woman went to her doctor to get the prescription filled, the doctor said he had never heard of Essure and would not fill the prescription. Instead, he called his pharmacist, who said that the woman needed to go to an emergency room to be checked for bleeding, because the pills contained egg white and had to be digested first. She went to a Texas hospital for her treatment, and on the way, the emergency room employee gave her a consent form, which warned her that Essure could leave her with health complications in the future, and it could have an adverse impact on her financial status, as she could be responsible for additional IVF costs.
The hospital bill arrives, and it’s way higher than any woman who might have run to the emergency room to seek treatment for her health complications. At the end of her visit, she gets billed $54,452.06, which includes a bill for $11,405.30 in out-of-network charges, another $32,682.36 in co-payments, and $2,152.67 in charges from co-pays sent to her exorbitantly high employer, who is listed as Ingersoll Rand. The woman didn’t realize how much she would have to pay until she received the bill on the doorstep. Her son, who was living in Texas at the time, and the healthcare attorney James Bickerton, represented her. They settled the bill with Ingersoll Rand for $73,039.29, just under half of the $89,000 they originally sought.
“The purpose of this letter is to thank you for your prompt response to request reimbursement and for forwarding this communication to media,” says the February 2 letter, which Bickerton shared with The Daily Beast. “On behalf of the complainant, the refund checks should be mailed to you within 21 days of receipt. The manner in which her medical expenses were billed was considered an unlawful bill-sharking of the consumer.”
The doctor who provided the patient the Essure ended up being a woman, who was forced to file a formal grievance over the bill. According to KXAN, both the doctor and the hospital employee and lawyer who delivered the original bill have all declined to comment.
Reported by Vanessa Guzmán and Crystal Quattrochi