LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Sometimes it's hard to know exactly what you're being charged for when you get a medical procedure.
One Lake Oswego man saw a charge on his bill that got his attention.
Now he's hoping what he has to say will help keep someone else from paying more than they have to.
Stuart Lawrence's ordeal began back in December when he got his cochlear implant at Legacy Emanuel.
It wasn't until he got the bill that he noticed something.
“A charge of $478.85 for non-covered services,” Lawrence read off his bill.
He promptly called Legacy's billing department. Lawrence soon found out the nearly $500 charge he was supposed to pay out of pocket, was for something anyone can buy at the store for a couple dollars.
“I just thought it was outrageous,” he said.
Lawrence was told the surgeon used bacitracin neomycin. It’s a name the average person may not recognize.
Lawrence is a retired doctor. He said he instantly knew he was basically being charged for what amounts to Neosporin.
“The point that got my goat a little bit was that the charge of $478 was for a blob of Neosporin,” said Lawrence.
After his phone call to the billing department, he received a letter.
"You are not responsible for this charge. It appears it was coded incorrectly,” he said reading the letter aloud.
Still his concern is that other people might be caught in similar situations and end up paying more than they have to.
“Were I not curious about what the charge was for, someone unknowingly would have felt responsible for the $478 and paid it,” said Lawrence.
He said his issue isn't specifically with Legacy Health, rather how the healthcare system as a whole handles costly medical procedures. He said medical charges ought to be regulated.
“It's a political issue that doesn't seem to get solved,” Lawrence said.
He hopes his experience is a lesson to all of us: check the bill when you get it.
KGW reached out to Legacy Health. Brian Terrett, Director of Public Relations sent a statement.
“Legacy Health is committed to transparency in the cost of health care. We have processes and controls in place to promote quality & accuracy. However, we invite all patients and their families to be good consumers by carefully examining any bill for accuracy. If patients see something they don’t understand or have questions on a Legacy bill, we have an entire team of specialists who can help guide patients through their bill. Legacy Health has always corrected any charges that are in error.”