Austin teacher’s $108,951 medical bill lowered to $332

Drew Calver

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin High School teacher faced with a $108,951 medical bill following treatment for a heart attack last year had his bill reduced to just $332 after media coverage of his story.

NPR and Kaiser Health News first reported the bill was reduced by St. David’s Medical Center to $782 hours after the story was reported nationwide and then reduced again to the final lowered amount Friday.

Drew Calver, 44, told KXAN’s Alyssa Goard earlier this week the billed amount was roughly double his annual salary.

Calver said a month after his April 2017 heart attack the massive bill came. He thought it was a mistake.

He said he remembered being in the hospital and asking staff whether his Aetna insurance would cover a procedure to put stents in his heart.

“And they said, ‘Yeah we’ve accepted your insurance, your insurance has been contacted.’ It sounded like they’d said yes,” Calver said, noting at that point he’d checked insurance coverage off his mental list of things to worry about.

His wife, Erin Calver, said, “[St. David’s] never worked with us or offered to work with us until August. Until then all we would get would be phone calls saying, ‘You owe us $108,000. Would you like to pay it in one payment or two payments?”

Tuesday, St. David’s HealthCare said, in emergency situations, their hospitals are not always able to transfer a patient somewhere that will take their insurance. The hospital said if Calver applied for financial assistance, his bill would be reduced to $789.29. 

Calver said earlier this week that was the first time he heard of a bill amount that low.

St. David’s Healthcare maintained it was the limitations of Calver’s insurance plan which led to his large bill. 

“While we did everything right in this particular situation, the structure of the patient’s insurance plan as a narrow network product placed a large portion of the financial responsibility directly on the patient because our hospital was not in-network with the patient’s insurance plan,” a spokesperson for the health care system said in a statement earlier this week.

Kaiser Health News obtained a memo sent by St. David’s Healthcare chief executive C. David Huffstutler to his board of governors on Monday, saying, in part: “With this story, we had a number of circumstances that made it difficult to neutralize the coverage — a monthly news segment that seeks to empower patients to challenge their medical bills; a gap in the system that is affecting patients … and, a compelling patient story.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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