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Lakewood man's surprise medical bill reduced to $0 after Contact Denver7 steps in

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Posted at 6:24 PM, May 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-15 21:21:56-04

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Contact Denver7 is getting results for a Lakewood couple sent to collections for an $800 medical bill from a doctor they say they never met. Since our first story aired, their bill has been reduced to zero.

David and Jennifer Piwonski have been fighting the bill after they were served paperwork last month. They had been sent to collections for a medical bill they claim they never received.

"It just sort of appeared," said Jennifer Piwonski. "I was angry it was handled like this."

In 2021, David Piwonski spent eight days in Sky Ridge Medical Center after an abdominal aneurysm. It was in-patient treatment, but the surprise bill was for outpatient services.

It was also for ER care while he was in the ICU. It was also for an out-of-network provider, Dr. David Jones, at an in-network hospital.

"So we call this sort of drive-by doctoring," said Adam Fox with Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, who said this sort of billing is no longer legal under the federal No Surprised Act, which went into effect two weeks after the hospital stay. "It is pretty ridiculous for a consumer to get a bill like this, for out-of-network services, considering that there are robust legal protections now in place."

Getting Results: Lakewood man's surprise medical bill reduced to $0

However, doctors can bill for medical services for up to six years after they are provided, Fox said.

In a statement to Contact Denver7, Aspen Medical Management, the physician's billing representative defended the bill:

"The services billed to Mr. Piwonski are valid. We sent numerous statements to Mr. Piwonski to the same address where he was served. Our office had no response to the statements sent to Mr. Piwonski. Therefore, the account was forwarded to our collections agency. Our office was not contacted until after Mr. Piwonski was served. We recently discussed the charges with Mr. Piwonski. Their insurance company has been contacted and we are awaiting their response."

Since then, however, the Piwonski's said their insurance company, United Healthcare, reprocessed the claim. They also signed up with Naviguard, a consumer advocacy company addressing out-of-network complaints.

"Actually being able to contact the right people and get things moving was a huge help," said David Piwonski.

A spokesperson with United Healthcare released this statement to Contact Denver7:

“We work on behalf of our members to help address egregious or excessive balance bills from out-of-network providers, particularly those practicing in in-network facilities. We worked with the couple and the issue has been resolved.”

Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need we can address or have a story idea for our consumer investigates team to pursue, please email us at contact7@denver7.com or or call (303) 832-7777. Find more Contact Denver7 stories here. You can also use the form below to request help from Jaclyn Allen and the Contact Denver7 Team.


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Use the form below to send us a comment or story idea to the Contact Denver7 Investigates Team. You can also email Contact7@denver7.com or call our newsroom at 303-832-0200.