Panhandle Man Sues Okaloosa Hospital Over $41,000 CT Scans

Aug 23, 2017

An Okaloosa County man is suing a North Florida hospital over what he calls unreasonable hospital bills. The case comes after North Okaloosa Medical Center charged George Washington MacNeil $41,000 for post-car crash CT scans.

Credit Jing via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/novemberjing/

After a 2016 car crash, George Washington MacNeil received four CT scans at the North Okaloosa Medical Center. The hospital charged him $41,000 for the service, a bill he now says is unreasonable. Florida's motor vehicle insurance laws are meant to protect injured drivers from overpriced healthcare costs. MacNeil’s lawyer Richard Bennett says the hospital is violating that law.

“The statute mandates that hospitals only make reasonable charges for medically necessary services. So we’re asking the court to determine if the law has been violated," Bennett said.

Florida's Motor Vehicle No Fault Law reads in part:

"A physician, hospital, clinic, or other person or institution lawfully rendering treatment to an injured person for a bodily injury covered by personal injury protection insurance may charge the insurer and injured party only a reasonable amount pursuant to this section for the services and supplies rendered..."

Bennett says healthcare costs don't respond to consumer demand in the way other commodities do. Emergency room patients don't have the luxury to shop around, he says.

“If you’re injured, you’re transferred by the paramedics to the closest emergency room for treatment. So you don’t have a choice and you’re not shopping or comparing prices, which are very difficult to determine,” Bennett said.

Hospital cost calculators Healthcare Bluebook and fairhealthconsumer.org price the same services between $2,000 to over $8,000, rather than $41,000.