In the recent case of Parkview Hospital, Inc. v. Frost, which is now before the Indiana Supreme Court, the issue of the reasonableness of hospital charges in the context of a contested hospital lien is addressed and may pose some issues with a hospital’s chargemaster. Frost was seriously injured in a motorcycle collision and was uninsured and incurred $625,117.66 in charges from the hospital which subsequently filed a statutory hospital lien under IC 32-33-4 et. seq. No financial responsibility agreement was signed until after Frost left the hospital. As authorized under the statute, Frost argued against the lien alleging that Parkview’s charges were unreasonable because they were greater than the amounts the hospital accepts from patients with private health insurance or government healthcare programs. Parkview sought the determination of the trial court that, as a matter of law, their default medical expense rates were reasonable. The Court of Appeals, in affirming the trial court, held that the trial court “correctly found that Frost should be allowed to discover [this] evidence” and that it was admissible under the Hospital Lien Act in determining the reasonableness of the charges. The Indiana Supreme Court accepted transfer and oral argument was heard on September 1, 2016.
Depending on the outcome from the Indiana Supreme Court, hospitals might expect more disputes over the reasonableness of charges in uninsured situations.
James A. L. Buddenbaum has practiced law for more than 25 years with Parr Richey representing municipalities and businesses in utility, healthcare and general business sectors in both regulatory and transactional matters. Jim also has extensive experience in representing businesses in making large property damage and similar insurance claims.