Man gets surprise bill for virtual visit, calls WBTV for help

Published: May. 25, 2021 at 10:25 PM EDT
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HARRISBURG, N.C. (WBTV) - A local man had a virtual visit with his doctor and got a bill for hundreds of dollars – even though previous visits had been covered by insurance.

“I don’t see why I can’t get this fixed, and it’s very frustrating,” said Jeffrey Brownell.

Brownell said he had virtual visits with a doctor at Atrium Health NorthEast Psychiatric Services – Harrisburg.

It’s an in-network facility with his insurance, UnitedHealthcare.

“I had four visits total. Three of them were covered, one wasn’t covered,” Brownell said.

Brownell said he got a bill from Atrium last November for one of those visits totaling $225.

“For some reason, I think it was coded wrong, according to Atrium Health, and they classified as being out of network and my responsibility for payment was 100%.”

According to his UnitedHealthcare claims, the three other visits were classified as “in-network.”

“When I phoned Atrium Health, they said well it was coded wrong,” Brownell said. “They would re-code it and send it to UnitedHealthcare. However, I called UnitedHealthcare. It never was resubmitted, so it was never changed.”

Brownell had already met his deductible, so he wouldn’t have been charged if it was coded correctly.

He said UnitedHealthcare told him if Atrium changed the code, they would cover the bill 100 percent.

Yet for nearly six months, he’s been battling this bill.

“I’ve contacted Atrium on several occasions and I get the same story that the coding is either correct or they will change it and resubmit it, but it’s never done,” Brownell said.

WBTV contacted UnitedHealthcare who said they’d reach out to Atrium and ask they re-submit the bill.

Atrium wouldn’t talk with WBTV for this story, but after our calls, contacted Brownell and told him he had a zero balance.

“So Atrium Health reached out to me and said that it looked like not only was the coding incorrect for the virtual visit, but they sent it to the medical department of UnitedHealthcare, and it should have been sent to OptumHealth of UnitedHealthcare.”

Brownell said, “I’m eternally grateful for you and WBTV On Your Side for clearing this problem up in one day that I’ve been working on for 6 months.”

In the course of this story, Brownell gathered not just his bill but his claims and explanation of benefits from UnitedHealthcare, which was very helpful.

Look at those documents.

They can tell you information like what is and isn’t out of network and whether your deductible has been met.

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