Washington County resident feels lost after a $78,000 medical bill | WNYT.com

Washington County resident feels lost after a $78,000 medical bill

Tessa Bentulan
Updated: December 09, 2021 07:55 PM
Created: December 09, 2021 07:19 PM

Many Americans have medical debt, and it can be overwhelming when you get the bill. It's no different for Richard Bailey, an Argyle resident.

Bailey was hurt in a motorcycle accident with his wife after a car crashed into them in Lake George over the summer. Bailey's wife was OK. 

He recently received some of the bills. It was a total of $78,000 for the helicopter ride, ambulance ride, and his stay in a hospital bed at Albany Medical Center. 

Bailey said he can't pay that.

"I don't have that."

His fear if he didn't get the bills paid? "My biggest fear is losing this home."

Bailey moved into a new home in Argyle with his wife just this year. It was his dream; it's the place he can share with his daughter and grandkids.

"My concern is my wife, my daughter, my granddaughter, my grandson. That's my concern. This is their home, and have I failed?"

Bailey made many calls and said he could not receive financial help. He felt lost. That's when he contacted 13 Investigates. 

"The bills are right there. $78,000. They're still right there. They're not going to go away," he said.

Our station called Albany Medical Center. Fran Spreer Albert, Albany Med's chief operating officer, said he does not owe the $78,000. They were able to get on the phone with Bailey and talk him through what was being paid for.

"The largest portion of that bill was the helicopter transport from the site of the accident to Albany Medical Center. Insurance covered that cost and paid for that," Spreer Albert said. "With respect to his other services, those were provided for through his insurance."

Albany Med does not own the helicopter; another company owns it. The hospital's customer service department did reach out to the helicopter company to try and remedy this for Bailey. 

Spreer Albert said the billing process can be overwhelming and hard to understand, especially when you first get it. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification. If you are having trouble understanding a bill you received, contact Albany Med customer service. They will walk you through it.

"That alone may decrease your concern and stress immediately because oftentimes, you will get progress bills that will just let you know where we are in the process with the insurer. It doesn't mean you owe anything."

They also have financial officers when you're on-site so you or a family member can ask questions before you are even discharged. They can help you figure what insurance programs you may be eligible for and can help you set up a payment plan, if you need one. 

Spreer Albert says they will never turn a patient away if they need help.

Bailey said he still needs surgery for his neck and his frozen shoulder from the accident. Spreer Albert said they explained to him what would be covered by his insurance and how he can apply for financial aid, if he has a deductible, and needs assistance.


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