Couple stuck with medical bills after Laser Spine Institute closes

Published: May. 21, 2019 at 8:43 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Norman Towell’s debilitating back pain allowed for a lot of TV time. When he saw a commercial for the Laser Spine Institute, he and his wife Sherry thought they found a solution.

"It's a quicker recovery, you don't hurt as long, you get mobile quicker, everything seemed better with laser as opposed to regular back surgery," Norman Towell said.

They made an appointment and headed down to the Laser Spine Institute facility in Tampa, FL. Towell says the recovery was miraculous.

"I was walking on the treadmill inside the motel exercising in about three hours after surgery," Towell said.

While the pain is gone, the bills were just arriving.

“When we registered, we had to pay for the service upfront. He (Laser Spine representative) told me how much it was going to be, which was $13,400,” Towell said.

Towell says the Laser Spine Institute told them about two financing companies that would give them loans to pay for the procedure. Once they acquired the loans he had the surgery but after it was all done, Towell says he realized he might have paid too much.

“Come to find out when we started doing all this digging, the guy that enrolled me was supposed to get pre-authorization from our insurance company. He didn’t do that,” Towell said.

"They (insurance company) said the most I was supposed to pay was $275."

The Towells filed a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s office detailing the all of the problems they had trying to get authorization and answers from the Laser Spine Institute.

In March, the Laser Spine Institute announced it was closing all its locations and now the Towells say they can’t find help anywhere.

“The last call we made with Aetna, the guy said that Laser Spine hadn’t even filed for coverage for the claim,” Towell said.

WBTV tried reaching out to representatives for the Laser Spine Institute but have not heard back.

A representative from Aetna said in an email they would be forwarding Towell’s case to their “executive response team.”

The Florida Attorney General’s office sent WBTV copies of six other complaints filed with them since the Laser Spine Institute closed in March. In one complaint a customer alleges that the Laser Spine Institute cashed checks from their insurance company that were intended for the client.

Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration said that former clients of the Laser Spine Institute can contact the company to try and retrieve medical records.

But while the Towells wait to see if insurance will help pay the bill, they have to stay on top of their medical loans.

To try and retrieve medical records from the Laser Spine Institute use the following contact information:

Laser Spine Institute, LLC

Attention Medical Records Team

5332 Avion Park Drive

Tampa, FL 33607

(866) 362-7574 ext. 140

Patients who are unable to obtain a copy of their medical records can file a complaint with the agency by calling 888-419-3456.

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