Colonoscopies may detect cancer, but may also result in unclear bills: Shots

Chantal Panozzo and her husband, who live in the Chicago suburbs, were surprised to receive bills for their first routine colonoscopies, believing they would be fully covered by their insurance as preventive care under federal law. After following their primary care doctors’ orders to get screened for colorectal cancer at the recommended age of 45, the couple expected the screenings to be covered at zero cost. However, they received bills for $600 each in addition to the screening costs, though their bills did not explain the specific charges. The couple’s insurer told them the charges were for “surgical trays,” while the medical provider’s billing representative said it was a “use cost” for the doctor’s office. Despite filing appeals and lodging a complaint with the Illinois Department of Insurance, Panozzo initially had no luck getting the charges removed. She found that the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover preventive care at no cost to patients, but there’s no requirement for providers to correctly code claims. Panozzo ultimately leveraged her financial frustration into correcting the billing errors, and while she was successful in getting the charges reversed, the experience left her feeling distrustful of the American healthcare system.

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