Man Receives $117,000 Medical Bill from an Assistant Surgeon He Didn’t Know

Peter Drier, a bank technology manager in New York City, had signed a pile of consent forms before his neck surgery for herniated disks. While researching his insurance coverage, Drier was prepared for the bills of $56,000 from Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital, $133,000 from orthopedist and $4,300 from his anesthesiologist, but an unexpected bill of about $117,000 came as an extremely unpleasant surprise for him.

The bill was from an assistant surgeon, a Queens-based neurosurgeon, whom Drier didn't even know. According to Drier, he thought he knew the risks, "but the additional fee charge was just so wrong and he had no negotiating power".

In hospital wards across the country, doctors and health care providers help each other in treating a patient. In such cases, patients do not know that any other doctor or health provider has been involved in treatment. They come to know about that only when the bill arrives.

The practice raises revenue for hospital and other health providers at a time when patients have to pay for additional services. In Drier's case, it is possible that his health care would have involved an out-of-network health provider who charges more than the usual local rates.

In recent years, several people have complained to the New York State agency about out-of-network charges. Multiple state health insurance commissioners have tried to limit insurers' responsibility.

The Republican insurance commissioner of Louisiana, James J. Donelon, said, "This has gotten really bad, and it's wrong. But when you try to address it as a policy maker you run into a hornet's nest of financial interests".

Neurologist Dr. Harrison T. Mu had sent $117,000 bill to Peter Drier.

According to insurance experts, sometimes surgeons and assistants share profits from treatment, but in Drier's case, Dr. Tindel had said that they had not shared any proceeds with Dr. Mu.

New York