customer stories

Florida Vacation Goes South After Overnight Hospital Stay Leads to $50,000 Bill


 Jennie Carruthers, a 68-year-old woman from Liverpool, England, was vacationing in North Palm Beach, Florida, when suddenly, things took a twist.

“I felt like my chest was being crushed,” she said, “like a crushing, squeezing pain with tingling down my arms.” A close friend urged her not to take chances with her health, so Carruthers took an ambulance to the closest hospital.

In the emergency room, the doctors couldn’t pinpoint the cause of her symptoms. Still, they advised her to stay overnight in case she had a blood clot. Their warning frightened her: “If you go home, you may not wake up tomorrow.”

“If you go home, you may not wake up tomorrow,” hospital physicians told Carruthers, leading her to decide to stay overnight.

“You don’t realize how vulnerable you feel in a foreign country in the hospital,” Carruthers said. Since her family has a history of heart problems, "I decided I couldn’t take the chance and stayed.”

During her hospital stay, her interactions with staff felt transactional, she said. “There was no empathy for me from the hospital. I felt just like a body on a bed.” Doctors still hadn’t found the cause of her symptoms by the time she was discharged.

Carruthers resigned herself to paying a huge medical bill that she figured would come out to $10,000 to $15,000. But when the bills arrived in the mail, she was floored. She never imagined that one overnight stay in a hospital could cost $50,000.

Jennie Carruthers' overnight hospital stay led to a nearly $50,000 hospital bill from Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center in North Palm Beach, FL.

“It was a massive shock to get the bill. The bills came from all different places and I didn’t know when they would stop,” she said. 

Worse, though Carruthers had never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder nor been prescribed medication for it, her insurance company declined to cover the bill, calling her symptoms a pre-existing condition.

On the hook for the entire balance, she and her husband frantically began thinking of solutions, like selling their car. Ironically, the situation created so much angst that Carruthers’ doctor prescribed her medication to help reduce her anxiety. 

Her insurance company declined to cover the bill, citing a pre-existing condition, leaving Carruthers on the hook for the entire amount.

“I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I was in a terrible state,” she said. “I felt as if they took advantage of a person in a vulnerable situation and billed just the highest amount possible.”     

Calling the hospital or insurance company was out of the question in her emotional state. “I don’t think I could have held a conversation with somebody about it without breaking down.” 

That’s when she found Goodbill while researching online. Goodbill reviewed her bill and found 19 unnecessary charges, one coding error, and 16 inflated charges. Goodbill’s negotiation skills got Carruthers’s hospital bill down from $50,000 to $0.

Goodbill was able to negotiate Carruther's hospital bill down to $0.

“I was in total disbelief when I got the news from Goodbill that we would not have to pay anything. We got Goodbill’s news in the evening and couldn’t believe our luck,” she said. “When we woke up in the morning, we double checked to make sure it wasn’t a dream.”

Carruthers says the whole negotiation process was surprisingly painless. “I got regular updates from my case manager about what was happening. I just let Goodbill handle it and gave them the information they needed. It was a huge relief to let someone else handle it.”

And while the whole ordeal was still stressful, having in her corner made all the difference.

"Getting Goodbill’s help was a massive relief. I never dreamed my hospital bill would come down to zero," she said.

Read more stories about patients who got their medical bills were lowered.

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