SAN ANTONIO – Mindy Davis doesn’t remember much about her May 2019 car crash on Highway 90.
She remembers looking down at a water bottle that had fallen along the floorboard of her small sedan and then looking up to see a vehicle at a dead stop right in front of her.
The impact of the collision broke Davis’ clavicle, fractured her L2 vertebrae and caused her to come in and out of consciousness.
Paramedics at first took the injured Davis to CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Westover Hills but then rerouted her to Brooke Army Medical Center, after it was determined that she needed a higher-level trauma center.
After a three-day stay at the military hospital, Davis was released and then had surgery on her shoulder at another facility.
She eventually received an explanation of benefits from her insurance carrier informing her that she would likely owe BAMC slightly under $700.
Records show BAMC instead billed Davis over $16,000 for her visit.
“I noticed the bill had no insurance applied to it,” said Davis, who described in detail her more than half-year back and forth with BAMC over what she owed.
Davis recalled at first that BAMC officials said her insurance was not billed because she had not provided that information when brought to the hospital via ambulance.
She claims she was then told that BAMC does not contract with any civilian insurance companies.
After officials finally agreed to bill her insurance months later, Davis said it had a minimal impact on her bill.
In late December, Davis received a delinquent balance notice from BAMC, informing her that the hospital was about to turn over her bill to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“If I didn’t go on a payment plan with them, they were going to turn it over to the Department of the Treasury and they were going to garnish my wages,” said Davis.
BAMC officials were unavailable for an interview for this story.
A hospital spokesman directed the KSAT 12 Defenders to a billing brochure that explains in part that patients who are not active duty military, retirees or covered family members are responsible for their full health care bill.
A statement from the spokesman reads the following:
“We understand that billing can be confusing and complicated, and work diligently to educate patients to aid in their navigation of the billing process. To help ensure the smoothest process possible, we have spoken with Ms. Davis throughout to offer our assistance and to provide any needed clarification. We do not have a signed release allowing us to discuss the details of her bill, but we can say there has been positive progress made. In the absence of a release, we are hoping Ms. Davis can provide you with the details. We most recently spoke with Ms. Davis on Feb. 11, 2020. We encourage our patients to call the BAMC Uniform Business Office (UBO) if they have any billing questions/concerns and also to reach out to their insurance carrier to clarify their policy and coverage. To contact UBO, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 916-8563/5772. As always, BAMC is honored and proud to provide world-class healthcare to our community and our Nation.”
Surprise Medical Billing
Representative Joaquin Castro (D- San Antonio) said Davis’ ordeal is another example of surprise medical billing.
“This has been a big problem for patients really throughout the country,” said Castro, who plans to add an amendment to a bill that recently passed through the U.S. Senate to include military hospitals.
“It’s something that all of us in the state Legislature, in Congress, we need to take on,” said Castro.
Castro’s two opponents in next week’s primary election did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Davis said she agreed to enter a payment plan, but was then able to get a reprieve. She explained that her insurance company essentially filed an appeal against itself, lowering the amount she owed to the original $698 she was quoted.