Learning that you or a loved one has cancer can feel absolutely devastating. But for one Georgia mother, her diagnosis was just the first piece of bad news her family would receive.
Laura Alley, 39, discovered a lump on her neck just months after giving birth to her fifth child, WSB-TV reported. She began treatment at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, where everything had been covered by her provider, up until this week.
Alley was in the middle of receiving treatment when she was informed by hospital officials that they could no longer accept her Christian health care plan. She was told she wouldn’t be allowed to leave if she couldn’t come up with the $41,000 needed to cover her balance.
“I’m sitting there, with a needle in my arm, receiving chemotherapy in my arm, and they are telling us that we are not going to be able to leave, until we pay them $41,000,” Alley told WSB.
Alley and her family are covered under Medi-Share, a Christian co-op that divides medical bills between members. Medi-Share is not insurance, but it works with an insurance network called Private Healthcare Systems (PHCS) to negotiate member rates.
The Alleys have been using Medi-Share for years, but this was the first time they had encountered any kind of trouble.
After hearing Laura’s story, WSB reached out to Northside Hospital, who claimed they “never said that we accept Medi-Share.”
“We have a contract with PHCS. Because we thought Mrs. Alley was part of the PHCS plan (PHCS did not tell us otherwise), we billed PHCS for her care. PHCS gave her bills to Medi-Share, who underpaid on our contracted rates with PHCS,” a hospital spokesperson said in an email.
WSB reporter Jim Strickland asked Alley about the hospital’s claim that they never said they accepted Medi-Share.
“That’s false,” Alley said. “It’s about money. But even then, it doesn’t make sense, because they’re getting paid.”
Upon investigating the hospital’s claims that Medi-Share underpaid Alley’s bills, WSB discovered that every bill had been paid in full — more than $98,000 — before the hospital stopped accepting Medi-Share.
The issue has since been resolved, as Medi-Share paid the Alleys’ balance in advance. Laura and her family don’t blame the co-op for the mishap and remain satisfied with the coverage they’ve continued to received.
“They wired the money,” Laura’s husband, Nick Alley, told WSB. “I mean, wired the money. what kind of health insurance company would do that, you know?”
Northside sent another statement to WSB, confirming that the family’s “billing issues have been resolved,” and that Laura is receiving care with “no delays, interruptions or cancellations.”