Atrium corrects patient’s bill after WBTV Investigates starts asking questions

Updated: Sep. 16, 2019 at 6:06 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - A billing error at a local hospital cost a WBTV viewer thousands of dollars until he reached out to the WBTV Investigates team.

Stuart Brashear’s doctor at Duke Medical prescribed him aquatic therapy to help rehabilitate from some difficult back operations.

“You’re learning to do exercises in the water, the treadmill in the water and there’s not a lot of whole places in Charlotte that offer that and the closest to us is Northeast Medical,” Brashear said.

Brashear says he contacted Atrium Health, which operates Northeast, which then contacted his health insurance provider. Brashear says he was told that 80 percent of the cost of aquatic therapy would be covered by his insurance company.

Once a week for several months, Brashear worked with a therapist.

“I could tell it was benefiting me so it was pretty exciting,” Brashear said.

“He (Brashear’s therapist) says ‘wow this is great you’re covered and they don’t even limit your visits which is unusual'.”

It was too good to be true.

“In July, I got my first bill that went back to March and April and it was for close to $2,000 and when I looked at it, it would show the amount owed and $0 paid by insurance,” Brashear said.

Brashear contacted his insurance company. Brashear says that they told him when Atrium called and gave them the codes for physical therapy, they didn’t include the code for aquatic therapy.

“That’s when I found out that they had recorded the conversation, they listened to it again and the code number for aquatic was never given to them,” Brashear said.

WBTV couldn’t get a copy of the recording but a report from the insurance company was provided to us showing no aquatic therapy codes were given. Brashear’s insurance told him to work with Atrium but Brashear says Atrium told him that it was his responsibility to check his insurance policy to make sure he was covered.

“I honestly felt I hadn’t done anything wrong,” Brashear said.

“They never gave the proper code to my insurance carrier so I didn’t feel I owed them that money. That’s fine, honest mistake but no offense, Atrium can afford it more than I can.”

WBTV emailed Atrium and Brashear gave us permission to access his medical records. Just two days later, Brashear says he got a call from an Atrium administrator.

He was told the bill would be wiped clean.

Brashear says he is being more careful now in double checking what he’s covered for but he’s unsure how long this haggling with Atrium would have lasted if WBTV hadn’t started asking questions.

“I think ultimately we might have reached this but the fact that WBTV got involved with it accelerated that process,” Brashear said.

WBTV reached out to Atrium Health for a response but the non-profit hospital did not provide any specifics.

“As part of our work to provide world-class care and services, Atrium Health is dedicated to providing our patients with excellent healthcare. We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with our patients to resolve their issues so that they are happy not only with their medical care, but with their entire experience at Atrium Health,” a statement from Atrium Health read.

If you have a tip for the WBTV Investigates team call us at 704-374-3511 or email us at

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