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Commercial attacks Mission Hospital for its billing practices

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    Asheville (WLOS) — An ad airing across the mountains is calling out the area’s largest hospital.

The State Employee Association of North Carolina paid for the ad, which has been airing over the past two weeks.

It’s accusing Mission Hospital of using secret contracts to bill state employees up to 900% more than Medicare.

“An individual patient can get an itemized bill, and, when patients get itemized bill, their eyes nearly pop out of their head. But, that’s after the fact,” SEANC’s Legislative Affairs Director Andris Watkins said.

She said the contracts are not only impacting state workers, but everyone.

Weeks after Carrie Turner’s daughter was rushed to the ER last May, medical bills came flooding in.

“It’s confusing, and it is frustrating to not be able to just have a full picture of, like, here’s how the process works,” Turner said.

“This is a problem,” Watkins said.

She said the state health plan contracts with an insurance company, which then contracts with hospitals. They decide between themselves what the insurance company will pay the hospitals.

Watkins said taxpayers then foot the bill.

“Basically, the state health plan is having to pay bills that they had no part of negotiating. So, it’s no different going to a store, loading up your cart, having no idea what the cost is and then getting the bill,” Watkins said.

News 13 reached out to Mission Health about the accusations in the ad. It responded with this statement, saying in part:

“Mission Health supports affordable health insurance coverage for all North Carolinians. We, like other hospitals across the state, have an agreement with BCBSNC covering the State Health Plan employees. As we have for the previous 134 years, Mission Health remains committed to improving the health and wellness of our region.”

The fix, according to the State Employees Association, is the Clear Pricing Project, also known as reference based pricing.

“[It’s] taking the price, comparing it to Medicare reimbursement, so you know for a certainty what you’ll pay,” Watkins said.

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