Philly Health Costs: Warning About Facility Fees

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Philly Health Costs: Facility Fees: Nydia Han reports on Action News at 6 p.m., March 15, 2018 (WPVI)

We've been encouraging you to shop around for your healthcare on Philly Health Costs. It's an online database provided by a 6abc partnership with the Philadelphia Inquirer. But even when using this to search for prices, you need to make sure you're comparing apples to apples and won't get hit with any surprise fees.

"When I first got that bill, I thought it was a mistake," said Lucille Morace of Washington Township, Gloucester County.

Morace and Susan Reuther have a warning for consumers after they both say they were charged an unexpected fee by Cooper University Health Care.

"And I said what is a facility fee, I have no idea what this is," said Reuther.

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Morace said she got hit with a $421.00 facility fee for a $250.00 doctor's visit.

"This is shame on Cooper for not letting people know in advance that they're going to get these fees," said Morace.

Facility fees at not unique to Cooper. Many hospitals bill for facility fees for outpatient services at affiliated clinics. The fee is in addition to the doctor's fee or the fee for the actual service.

"I would still use a Cooper doctor if I had a problem. I love them. I would still use it, I would pay the facility fee but I will not use it for preventative medicine because I'm not going to pay $421.00 extra every time I walk in the door," Morace said.

So when you're looking for prices on Philly Health Costs, check whether the price listed includes a facility fee. If it doesn't call your doctor or provider directly and ask the following questions:

1. Is there a facility fee, and how much is it?
2. Is it covered by my insurance?
3. Can this test/procedure/service be done at another place without a facility fee?

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Morace and Reuther are now asking those critical questions and Morace said she recently made a money-saving decision for her next ultrasound.

"Because I had another one scheduled and no one could tell me if I would be charged a facility fee, I went elsewhere and the price was half."

Once again, we encourage you to dig out your bills and share your pricing information on Philly Health Costs.

Statement from Cooper University Health Care

Cooper University Health Care is the lowest cost academic tertiary care health system in the region and provides the highest quality care in more than 75 specialties. While privacy laws prevent us from speaking to a specific patient's situation, Cooper makes every effort to help patients understand the cost of their health care and pay for their care.

Cooper has a dedicated business office with extended hours, including Saturdays, and financial representatives are available 24-hours a day in its Emergency Department. Cooper also provides specific help to patients with high-deductible health plans to understand their out-of-pocket costs prior to receiving care. Patients can call the business office at 1.855.434.538, which is posted on our website, for questions about the cost of their care, including facility fees, which are standard charges to cover the costs related to hospital-based services.

HOW TO USE THE PRICECHECK TOOL
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Action News Consumer Reporter Nydia Han shows you how to use Philly Health Costs and the PriceCheck tool.

See the PriceCheck tool here
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