Why is this Denver woman's eye exam bill ten times the normal rate?

Posted at 5:34 PM, Mar 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-23 21:24:16-04

DENVER -- It started as a routine eye exam for Marisa Pooley. She saw her doctor and left her appointment at the UCHealth eye clinic in Denver without any issue. 

“I read an eye chart, saw the doctor for five minutes,” she said. 

Six months later, she got a bill in the mail. Before insurance, the clinic visit cost $126.18 and “other diagnostic services” cost $1,415.10. After insurance, Pooley was left with a bill of $735.86.

“I’ve been on the phone with the collections agency, my doctor, the billing office, my insurance,” she said.  “And no one being able to tell me what I’m being billed for.”

She says there wasn't anything different about this visit. She had seen the same doctor before for the same service and was only charged her $40 copay. 

“Was the coding incorrect? What’s going on here?” she asked.

Denver7 reached out to UCHealth for answers, but they cited patient privacy. 

Victoria Caras of Aspen Medical Billing Advocates tells Denver7’s Jason Gruenauer that “a standard eye exam would never include $1,500 in testing.”

A local optometrist agreed, saying unless there was some kind of major procedure done, it’s unlikely it would have topped $1,000.

Pooley insists there was no such procedure or anything other than an eye chart involved in her visit. 

“It’s not fair, it’s not right, I don’t know what I’m paying for but I just want to be done,” she said.

The medical billing advocate advised Marisa and anyone who gets a bill like this to request a line item bill. She said it’s easier to fight a single charge rather than an entire bill. 

UPDATE: After Denver7 contacted UCHealth in regards to the story, Pooley received a call from a customer service manager. The company told her they will send her an itemized bill and that they are looking into her case. They’ve taken her bill back from collections and are checking to see if it was a bill coding issue.