NBC News @NBCNews The leading source of global news and info for more than 75 years. Jul. 30, 2019 1 min read

First kidney failure, then a $540,842 bill for dialysis.

Sovereign Valentine had been feeling progressively run-down for months. It turned out he was in kidney failure and needed dialysis immediately. (1/8)  https://nbcnews.to/2Y94n2I 

The Valentines chose Fresenius Kidney Care for dialysis, and were warned it was out-of-network, requiring them to pay what the insurer didn’t cover. The insurer paid $16,241.72, leaving Valentine to pay $524,600.17, which is more than the typical cost of a kidney transplant (2/8)

When Sovereign’s wife Jessica opened the $540,842 bill, she cried. “It was far worse than what I had imagined would be the worst-case scenario,” she said.

Sovereign had a different reaction: “To me, it’s so outrageous that I just have to laugh.” (3/8)  https://nbcnews.to/2Y94n2I 

As dominant providers of dialysis care in the U.S., Fresenius and DaVita form what health economists call a “duopoly.” They can demand extraordinary prices for the lifesaving treatment they dispense — especially when they are not in a patient’s network. (4/8)

Dialysis centers justify high charges to commercially insured patients because they say they make little or no money from their Medicare patients, who make up the bulk of their clientele. But nearly $14,000 per session is extraordinary. (5/8)  https://nbcnews.to/2Y94n2I 

Jessica arranged for Sovereign to get further dialysis in an in-network clinic run by a nonprofit organization that didn’t turn up in her insurer’s online search or the directory. In the meantime, the Fresenius bills were still adding up (6/8)

A financial counselor at Fresenius told Jessica that they qualified for a discount of 50%, based on their income. That would still leave them a bill of $262,400.08.

“I want to pay what we owe and what’s reasonable and what his care actually cost,” she said. (7/8)

The Valentines are considering contacting a lawyer and, if all else fails, may file for bankruptcy.  https://nbcnews.to/2Y94n2I  (8/8) #NBCNewsThreads

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