In August 2008 I had eye surgery at Southwest Florida Regional hospital (part of Lee Memorial) at the outpatient surgery center. I was given what the hospital costs would be barring complications (there were not any) and told Lee Memorial is giving 50% discount (after the initial "discounts") if I paid in full after the surgery. The 50% discount for self-pay patients was even mentioned in the local Newspaper the Fort Myers Newspress, over several articles written by Jennifer Booth Reed at that same time.
The hospital billed me over $21,000 for their end. Because I have no insurance (a self-pay customer) they give a 20% discount which comes to over $16,000. As a comparison by my own Doctor's recommendation, I called Naples Community Hospital and received a quote for $8374 for the same exact procedure, type of facilities and equipment. This is without any discount. I also contacted a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina (My house is there) and was told the total price would be under $7000 as they bill self pay customers about the same as what Medicare pays. The Charlotte hospital is a For Profit hospital and rated one of the top 100 in the country.
To have surgery in Naples would have required starting with a new Doctor as mine did not have a relationship with NCH. Travel to Charlotte was possible but given I was told about the 50% discount I decided to stay in Fort Myers.
When I called after the surgery on the bill for the hospital I was offered a 20% discount if I paid in full immediately. Since they have added items (not sure where the came from) to the original quote it would put the amount now at about $17,000. When I asked about the 50% discount mentioned in the News press article Tiffany told me she never heard of any such discount. She went on to say if it was not paid in full within a month I would be turned over to a Collection agency. I tried again twice after that and the same response was given. Have been making payments since then but it has been sent to a collection agency anyway. The collection agency tells me they have no record of any payments being made by me (even though my checks are being cashed) and they will not deduct the amount of those payments.
I am being charged more than double what Naples Community Hospital would be charging. Nearly triple what it would cost in Charlotte or what Lee Memorial would receive from Medicare. And everyone else seems to accept near what Medicare pays. This gives me (and I am sure other Self payers) the impression Lee Memorial is trying to take advantage of those of us without insurance. It is little wonder I hear often of people and doctors who recommend going elsewhere for treatment. In fact it was my own doctor who recommended Naples Community Hospital and the hospital in Charlotte, NC (ande other doctors) even though he would not be performing the procedure and would lose my business. My own Doctor also thought Lee Memorial was over-charging me. And when you feel like you are being taken advantage of you really do not want to reward them? I think most in a similar position would probably just make a minimum payment each month or possibly just not pay anything at all.
My Doctor has always given me a discount which just about matched Medicare rates. I contacted the Anesthesia Company. They had sent a bill for over $1500 for their services. Within two minutes of calling them they reduced it to less than a quarter of that amount matching the Medicare rate exactly as long as I paid in full within two days. Needless to say I mailed the check within an hour of hanging up the phone.
Lee memorial states they are losing money. Yet other hospitals are charging legitimate amounts and seem to be able to operate as FOR-PROFIT hospitals. Next time and my recommendation for others who are self-pay is to find doctors who are associated with hospitals other than Lee Memorial. Have since found Naples Community Hospital (NCH) has better facilities anyway and are only 30 minutes away. Lee Memorial and their staff were misleading from the start. They had no intention of ever giving that 50% discount.
I would be more than happy to find a way to pay my debt in full if they stuck to the original intention. I wait for their collection agency to take me to court instead which they seem to be proceding on. I have addiitional health issues which I am gladly paying in cash (Medicare rates) and have done everything to try to resolve this. Lee Memorial Health System's Collection agency (West Asset Management) seems to have no desire for anything but paying an inflated bill. STAY AWAY FROM LEE MEMORIAL HEALTH SYSTEM, LEE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, CAPE CORAL HOSPITAL, SOUTHWEST FLORIDA REGIONAL, HEALTHPARK, GULF COAST HOSPITAL or any Affiliates. They have a monopoly in the Lee County/Fort Myers area and seem intent on using that to their advantage.
cape coral, Florida