SNOHOMISH — Titus Will got a jolt when he opened his bill from a walk-in visit to The Everett Clinic.
It said the payment due was $1,363,292.95.
What’s up with that?
“It was kind of a shock,” said Will, 36.
He didn’t freak out. “I knew it was an error. I thought it was more funny than anything.”
Still, he went to the clinic to talk about it. That’s when he realized he wasn’t alone.
“The lady in front of me in line had the same kind of issue,” Will said.
He posted it to Facebook and several people responded with similar bills.
“Nobody had the same number,” he said. “One person said they had a $3.6 million bill.”
Will said he called the clinic’s billing office.
“The lady was really nice. She told me not to worry about it.”
He received a letter a few days later from the clinic offering “sincerest apologies.”
“Dear valued customer,” it read. “Our processing vendor made a mistake that caused an incorrect amount due to print on your bill.”
Jessica Geurkink, communications manager at DaVita Medical Group and media spokeswoman for The Everett Clinic, said the issue has been “addressed and resolved.”
“On May 24, we discovered that patients whose statements were generated on May 21st, 22nd and 23rd, were mailed miscalculated balances,” she wrote in an email. “Patients received new statements immediately, with the correct amount due and an explanation of what had occurred … We encourage patients that if something ever looks a little off on your statement — whether it’s by one dollar or one million dollars – give us a call.”
Will said the bill is from a clinic visit on Sept. 9. “When it was smoky out last year from the wildfires, I went in because I had a hard time breathing,” he said.
The charge was $262 for what he said was likely triggered by allergies. “The doctor told me to try to avoid smoke, and it was smoky everywhere,” he said.
At that time, ashy pink-gray smoke cloaked the entire Pacific Northwest from fires burning 190,000 acres in Washington and millions more acres in Idaho, Oregon, Montana and British Columbia.
His insurance has a $500 deductible.
“I hadn’t hit my deductible for the year,” he said. “I’ve just been making payments on it each month. My actual balance was $101.09.”
Will said he’s had fun with the erroneous bill.
“I was thinking, ‘What would it take to actually get a bill that big?’” he said. “I had my kids through Everett Clinic and the birthing doctor, they were good, but my bill was no more than $3,000.”
His kids are 14 and 15. Prices have gone up a bit since.
A routine baby delivery starts at $5,059.25, according to the clinic price list at www.everettclinic.com/healthcare-pricing for those self-paying or without insurance.
A vasectomy is $958.75. A brain MRI is $1,018.75. A first visit with a psychiatrist is $506.50. A typical Botox injection is $2,300.
The surgery fee for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (aka gallbladder removal) is $1,568.25. That doesn’t include the room — the facility fee is $4,830 — or anesthesia, another $1,001.
So for $1.36 million, about 185 people could get their gallbladders removed. Or one person could get about 600 Botox treatments.
The billing snafu gave Will a chance to see things from the other side.
“I work at AT&T in their billing for the high-level adjustments, so I’ve seen crazy amounts but never seen one for a $1.3 million cell phone bill. Maybe $30,000 at the most, which is a lot,” he said.
These are for real charges, though, not miscalculations.
“People go traveling and get roaming bills. Or they get SIM cards stolen and go crazy and call Cuba or something,” he said. “We choose if it’s a valid adjustment and adjust it.”