The complaint for this class action alleges that the Kadlec Regional Medical Center’s emergency room charges a “cover charge”—a fee in addition to the itemized fees—for being seen at the center’s emergency room. The fee is not disclosed to patients at the time of their treatment and the complaint claims that this is “a substantial factor in an emergency care patient’s decision to remain at the hospital and proceed with treatment.”
The class for this action is all individuals who, between April 19, 2015 and April 19, 2019, received treatment at one of Kadlec Regional Medical Center’s emergency rooms, and who were billed an emergency room fee in addition to the charges billed for individual treatment items and services.
The complaint begins by highlighting the emergency rooms' “General Consent to Treatment and Conditions of Admissions” document, which it says “makes no reference to any specific rate schedule for hospital services, and makes no mention of [Kadlec’s] intention to add a Surcharge to a patient’s bill in addition to the various individual charges for specific items of treatment and services provided to the patient.” The surcharge is also not disclosed, the complaint says, by any signage, by a verbal notice, or in any other form that the patient might see upon presenting for treatment.
The surcharge comes in five different levels determined after the patient is discharged, which the complaint says is determined by a formula known only to the Center. The surcharges range from $257 to $2,437. The complaint says that this is particular “egregious” because the Center “represents itself as a charitable organization, providing caring and compassionate service to patients in the community and claims to promote pricing transparency.”
In fact, the hospital’s website states, “At Kadlec Regional Medical Center, we know that health care can be an unexpected expense and that the cost of health care services can be a deciding factor for many people as they plan for care. Kadlec supports health care pricing transparency and tools that help patients and consumers evaluate what care is best for them and any related financial costs.”
On April 22, 2017, plaintiff Stephen Bradford was treated at a Kadlec emergency room. The total bill for his visit was $7,845.10. This included a surcharge of $1,425 in addition to nineteen individual charges for treatment, a substantial addition to a bill of that size. The complaint says that at no time had Bradford been informed that this extra charge would be added to his bill.
The complaint claims violation of Washington state’s consumer protection laws.