coronavirus illinois

Chicago Coronavirus Patient Hit with Large Hospital Bill Due to Coding Issue

NBCUniversal, Inc.

After contracting the coronavirus, a Chicago-based flight attendant was left with a more than $800 hospital bill due to an apparent hospital coding issue.

In April, Troy Muenzer, said he was feeling short of breath, so he decided to go to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

"I explained that I was an essential worker," he said. "I had been around a lot of people traveling. They had someone in a hazmat suit walk me around [a] building into a tent to assess my symptoms. I assumed I was going to get tested."

Muenzer wasn't tested, but was diagnosed with the coronavirus, given a notice for work and told to self-quarantine.

"The doctor said I believe you are COVID positive, but you are not 65 and do not have underlying conditions, so we are not able to test you," he recounted.

The flight attendant recovered from the virus, but then came another battle - a hospital bill of almost $1,000. While Muenzer's health insurance company covers virus screenings 100%, in this case, it was refusing to pay.

"I was flabbergasted," he said. "I was shocked."

Muenzer soon learned there was an issue with how the hospital coded the visit. He tried numerous times to get the billing code changed and even filed an appeal. But he was getting nowhere.

NBC 5 reached out to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was told someone from the billing department would get in touch with him. Muenzer received a call Thursday and was told the hospital bill had been recoded, and it will be resubmitted to his insurance company.

"It shouldn't have to take doing a news interview to resolve this issue," he said.

Karen Pollitz, with the Kaiser Family Foundation, said issues like Muenzer's could have to do with the fact that the coronavirus is new and confusing. She advises people to save all their virus-related paperwork and to call their health plan before submitting any payments.

"People have to brace themselves that this wont work perfectly, but don’t take no for an answer," she said.

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