Information on Ohio's Consumer Laws from Attorney Daniel Myers, Myers Law, LLC, not legal advice
For years, hospitals have been overbilling patients and sending them to collections over bills that were already paid, or overpaid. This happens in large part because hospitals make it nearly impossible for patients to know what will be owed ahead of time, or track prior payments to specific service charges. Dan Myers plans to change that in Ohio.
On December 9th, Dan filed a lawsuit against two Cleveland / University Hospitals entities, alleging that they have double-billed patients, ignored patient requests for itemized billing records, shared patient medical information with debt collectors when there is no debt to collect, and violated multiple laws in Ohio concerning what they can charge patients and what notices and information they have to provide patients.
This lawsuit is unique because it is not just Dan representing a consumer–Dan is the consumer. The lawsuit, Myers v. University Hospitals Health System, Inc., et al., Case No. CV-2020-12-3440, was filed in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. A copy of that Complaint can be found on the court docket.
Dan alleges that University Hospitals took a co-pay from him, but then did not apply the payments to his account, and billed him multiple more times. Dan even paid some of that double-billing, but when University Hospitals demanded even more, Dan did not pay it. University Hospitals threatened him with “extraordinary collection actions” if he didn’t pay more than he actually owed. Dan alleges that UH then sent his private health information to a debt collector without any authorization or privilege to share that information, that they failed and refused to send him the itemized bills he needed to verify if the amounts were paid, or not, and that they eventually refunded an overpayment, after acknowledging they still had $75 of his money from the co-payment that they had not applied to his account.
The itemized statements he did eventually get (notably missing was the main statement the collection matter was related to) showed that UH increased the amount owed for his medication by $75, apparently without justification. Dan also alleges that UH violated multiple Ohio laws, including the Consumer Sales Practices Act R.C. 1345.01 et seq. (by failing to give estimate, failing to use proper receipts, and other conduct), Ohio’s Price Transparency Law R.C. 5162.80 (requiring an estimate be provided), Insured Patient Payment Limitation Law R.C. 1751.60, and another law preventing patients from having to pay more than their insurers R.C. 3923.81.
According to Myers, he hopes his lawsuit will stop “the decades of unlawful, unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable conduct of University Hospitals and other hospitals that have ruined the financial lives and hopes of Ohio consumers.” (Complaint, paragraph 2).
As this case progresses, Dan plans to share updates about filings, and the position taken by University Hospitals.
In a separate action involving the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Dan Myers and Scott Perlmuter of Tittle and Perlmuter have been addressing some similar issues with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and its billing practices.
Dan is also beginning to appear in numerous other courts throughout Ohio, representing patients wronged by other unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable billing practices used by other hospital systems in Ohio. If you know about a hospital system that has been misleading patients, double-billing for services, or surprising patients with enormous bills, Dan wants to hear about it here.