Get Gephardt Investigates: Patients paying too much for lab work after telehealth visits

Sep 6, 2023, 11:23 PM

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — Telehealth is massively expanding, making it easier for people to connect with medical care. But one Taylorsville woman says she hit a snag when she got a big bill for her telehealth visit, all because her doctor wasn’t based in Utah.

Utahn Ashlee Argyle liked being able to visit the doctor from the comfort of her couch.

“Telehealth is super easy,” she said. “I don’t have to set an appointment, don’t have to find a primary care provider, any of that stuff.”

When she was under the weather back in November, she used her Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield app to connect.

She spoke with the doctor who sent her for some bloodwork. Argyle found a lab in Utah and verified it was in network.

Everything seemed fine until she was hit with a surprise bill.

“I got the bill and it is $800, and it says that insurance denied the claim because it was out of network,” Argyle said.

It turns out Argyle’s virtual doctor was based thousands of miles away.

“She’s in Hawaii. So they billed it under Hawaii. They coded it as a Hawaii bill,” Argyle said.

Argyle appealed the bill with Regence but was denied.

“[I feel] frustrated and very taken advantage of because I feel like I literally don’t have the option of finding that information out. I have no way of finding out that they’re going to bill through Hawaii,” Argyle said. “I want to pay the fair price that I went to a covered provider.”

Argyle decided it was time to Get Gephardt.

When KSL-TV reached out to Regence, a spokesperson wrote in an email they’re aware of the billing issue. It happens, occasionally they wrote, with lab orders. In-network labs are sometimes being processed as out-of-network.

“We’re closely collaborating with other health plans and our lab partners to identify a solution,” the spokesperson wrote.

In the meantime, some good news for Argyle. After calls to Regence from Get Gephardt, her bill dropped from more than $800 to around $80.

Regence apologized for Argyle’s experience, and urged any customer experiencing a problem with their bill to reach out – which is of course, what Argyle did when she appealed.

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Get Gephardt Investigates: Patients paying too much for lab work after telehealth visits