ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A 55-year-old Round Rock man bitten by a coyote in January said he has been surprised with more than $13,000 worth of emergency room bills for his rabies treatments.
Steve Robinson said he was working underneath his car on Jan. 15 when he felt something snap on his foot.
“I turn over and there’s a coyote standing right there in the yard, right in front of the door,” Robinson said at the time.
Robinson said he went to the Baylor Scott & White emergency room in Round Rock and was presented an “estimated patient financial obligation summary.”
Those documents show a “estimated patient payment” of $953.00.
Robinson said he was told the estimate included all four subsequent rounds of rabies shots he would require.
“They said, no, this should cover all of it. That was the reaction I got,” Robinson said.
But Robinson said the final bill, issued a week after his fourth and final visit, showed a balance over $20,000. After a self-pay discount, the Robinson family was told they owe the hospital just over $13,000.
“We live in a state with critters, what do you expect the common person to do? Are we supposed to file for bankruptcy for getting a rabies shot?” Robinson’s wife, Yvonne Robinson said.
Robinson and his family are members of Medi-share, a Christian-based program where members help pay for each other’s medical bills. It isn’t an “in-network” accepted program at Baylor Scott & White.
Because of this, Robinson said his family might have to pay all of it while Medi-share gathers more information and negotiates with the hospital. Even still, Robinson would owe more than $10,000 for the deductible.
“I’d be nice if they said this could get expensive. You know, we just want to let you know up front,” Robinson said.
“This estimate is based on information known to us at this time and does not reflect consideration for complications, secondary conditions, and/or other unknown factors,” the estimated patient financial obligation summary states. “Although we try very hard to give accurate estimates, there are many things which influence the actual charges that we are unable to predict. As a result, the final billed charges may be more than the estimated charges and will be reflected on a final billing statement.”
KXAN brought the finals bills to Baylor Scott & White representatives to find out more about rabies shots, billing procedures and ensuring transparency between doctors and patients.
A spokesperson declined to comment on this individual matter, citing privacy laws, but said they plan to reach out to Robinson.
A Statement from Baylor Scott & White
At Baylor Scott & White, we work diligently to make the patient experience as simple and as transparent as it can be. We provide scheduled patients with information and resources to understand their costs of care in advance of service, including a self-service tool on the BSWH website: https://www.bswhealth.com/patient-tools/patient-registration-and-billing/estimate-your-cost-care.
However, because of the complexity and numerous factors involved with emergency care, it is challenging to provide a comprehensive estimate of total costs. As indicated on estimates provided to patients, the information provided in these situations is just an estimate and may differ from the final amount due. For any patient who is unable to pay their balance in full, financial assistance and interest free payment plans are available.BAYLOR SCOTT & WHITE MEDIA RELATIONS
Surprise Medical Bills
This year, Texas has a new law to protect patients from surprise medical bills.
In the legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill to help patients with state-regulated health plans. It leaves billing negotiations between insurance plans and providers. There’s also a narrow carve out when a patient specifically chooses an out-of-network doctor knowingly.
If you get a surprise medical bill, the Texas Department of Insurance may be able to help. But if you don’t have a state-regulated plan, the U.S. Department of Labor can assist you.
Coyotes in Austin
According to data from the City of Austin, the winter months are when the most coyote related 311 complaints are made.
Last year, 480 calls were placed in the months of January, February and then Novemeber and December.
That’s more calls placed than the other eight months in the year combined.
In the first 15 days of January 2020, the city said it received 44 complaints.