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Wisconsin family gets a surprise $3K medical bill, hospitals could post prices online

SUSSEX Wis. (CBS 58) -- A local family left with a hefty medical bill says they didn’t see it coming. The so-called Surprise medical billing happens here in Wisconsin and across the country, but new legislation could change that.

The Rozinski family went to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin clinic for a blood test after their three-year-old daughter had a lingering cough. But, they didn’t know they would get a $3,000 medical bill in the mail for the test.

“When I opened it I was in shock. I did not know I had $3,000 worth of services done,” Angela Rozinski said.

Rozinski’s family insurance only covered about $300 of the $3,000 medical bill. She says the hospital was unclear about the expensive test. Now, she’s hoping their story sheds light on what they call a problem in the medical industry.

“Never through this, anyone told me, you might want to look through your insurance to make sure it's all covered,” Rozinski said. “It was all considered routine.”

This scenario isn’t uncommon for Milwaukee’s Debt Advisors Law Offices, as about three-fourths of their clients have medical debt. Attorney Michael Georg said part of the problem is patients don’t know how much the procedures are.

“No one knows what it's going to cost, then you get the note from the insure they're going to pay this little portion, you got your 10K deductible, and you're left holding the bag,” Georg said.

Legislators in Washington D.C. are working to change that. Hospitals may soon have to post their prices online under a proposed rule by the Trump Administration. The changes are designed to give patients more information about the out-of-pocket charges they’ll face. It would take effect next year.

Rozinski says online prices would have saved her family a financial burden. Rozinski believes she could have done the same test with a different doctor at a lower price or found an alternative test.

“Maybe we could have waited a month or two to see if this is needed, there are a lot of different scenarios we could go through, but we were only given one,” Rozinski said.

Their hefty medical bill is sitting in collections and they say the agency has filed a lawsuit against them.

CBS 58 reached out to several hospitals Wednesday, including Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. As of Wednesday night, only Aurora Health Care has responded to our requests. Aurora Health Care said:

“We’re looking at this closely to better understand the implications for our patients. We continue to support more transparency across all aspects of the industry for the consumers’ benefit.”

The Wisconsin Hospital Association President/CEO Eric Borgerding sent CBS 58 this statement:

“WHA supports price transparency and has been a national leader in publicly reporting and providing Wisconsin’s health care consumers with hospital-specific information about services, charges and quality since 2005 through our PricePoint and CheckPoint websites. There is always more that can be done to get patients the information they need about health care quality, price and the patient’s share of costs. The proposed rule is seeking public comment on the crucial details, and WHA looks forward to working with other stakeholders to ensure patients have the information they need to make informed decisions about their health care.”

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