Have you ever received a doctor’s bill that made your heart stop? Dave Mann has. The Vernon Hills man went to a clinic for what he described as watery eyes and a stubborn cold. The diagnosis? Allergies.
"They looked up my nose and asked me like 3 questions," Mann said.
Uninsured at the time, he paid the $139 hospital bill on the way out. But Mann said what really got his nose out of joint came in the mail weeks later: a bill for $716.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute. This is wrong,’” Mann told NBC 5 Responds. “I had no x-rays. I had no blood work. I had no nothing. $716 for that?”
Mann said the big bill came from a business he’d never heard of, for what he described as minor treatment – with no explanation of the fees.
His first call was to the Advocate Condell clinic where he was treated.
“They said, ‘We don’t handle the billing,’ and I said, ‘Are you aware of the billing? Are you aware they billed me $716 for this three-question diagnosis?’” Mann recounted.
Advocate Condell told NBC 5 Responds that hospitals and independent doctors bill separately, and pointed to Schumacher Clinical Partners, a third-party billing company based in Louisiana that represented Mann’s doctor.
"They were gouging. Pure and simple," Mann said.
He isn’t the only one who’s questioned Schumacher’s practices. Among those lashing out on the Better Business Bureau’s website was a consumer complaining her “bill was excessive.” Another asked, “why is the bill so high?” and a man accused the company of “price gouging.”
When he called Schumacher to inquire, Mann said they wouldn’t budge.
"They take such a tough approach. You better pay it or else," Mann recalled. "And that's when I decided, you know what? I've had enough already. I'm going to contact NBC 5."
We asked Advocate Condell if it was aware of the complaints about this billing process. A spokesperson told us the hospital has no control or oversight when it comes to outside billing.
Schumacher Clinical Partners would not answer specific questions, saying only:
“Due to federal privacy laws, we cannot comment on specific patient cases, but are committed to working closely with our patients and clinical partners to help resolve any questions or concerns."
But after our call, Mann’s $716 bill was wiped out, with no explanation given.
“I had results that I couldn’t haven even imagined because this probably would have continued to be a nightmare for months, if not years,” Mann said. "I didn't have good results - I had excellent results!"