May 2021 Spectrum News

Imagine going to the hospital for an emergency or scheduled surgery and afterwards getting a bill for a visit you thought was covered by your insurance.  That’s what happened to one Charlotte man. He says he did all his research, but unfortunately was still hit with a surprise bill.

taylor houstonDuring a dark and hectic 2020, Taylor Houston saw a ray of sunshine through his daughter Billie. She was born during the pandemic, but her birth pushed Houston to do something he’s put off all his life: cochlear implant surgery.  Houston was born with microtia atresia meaning the outer and middle part of his right ear never developed.  “I had several surgeries where what they did was essentially they constructed [my] entire ear,” he said. “So [my] earlobe is completely constructed from cartilage from another part of my body.”

Despite only having one ear, Houston said his life was pretty normal.  Over the years, doctors mentioned he get a cochlear implant but he brushed it off until after Billie was born last April. 

“I sat down with my wife and I was like this might be the one and only chance that we’ll be able to get this thing covered under insurance, and where we might not have to spend an arm and a leg to get this done,” said Houston.  After months of research, phone calls and appointments, Houston finally received his surgery in late October. “Not hearing anything out of the right side of your head for 37 years of your life and then hearing something out of it is really fascinating and weird and its an extensional experience that’s interesting,” he said. 

Houston thought everything with his surgery was covered until a letter showed up at his house a month later. He was hit with an over $2,000 surprise anaesthesia bill from Providence Anaesthesiologist Associates.  On their website, it states that in March of 2020 Houston’s healthcare provider United Healthcare terminated their contract. It meant Providence was no longer considered in-network under United Healthcare, something Houston said he was not notified about until after his surgery.   (The matter was subsequently resolved - Ed)

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