Consumer Reports: 'Patients getting stuck with big bills after ER visits' (features MAG CEO)

A recent article in Consumer Reports on "surprise billing" features Medical Association of Georgia CEO Donald J. Palmisano Jr. It reads in part, "One Monday last September, Kimberly Fister-Mesch woke up in the middle of the night from head pain so severe she thought she might be having a stroke. Taking Motrin and Tylenol did nothing.

"When she took her blood pressure and found it spiking to 190/120 (normal for her is 120/90), she had her husband race her to the emergency room a few miles away from their home in Lexington, Ky.

"Fister-Mesch was relieved when a CT scan at the hospital found she wasn’t having a stroke but suffering from bacterial mastoiditis, a serious but treatable inner ear infection. The 54-year-old was given pain killers, an antibiotic prescription, and sent home.

"But her relief was short-lived. A few weeks later, she got a letter from her insurer, Anthem, saying that it wouldn’t cover the $4,300 ER bill because her condition didn’t meet the company’s definition of a true emergency. Instead, they said she should have called the insurer’s 24/7 online doctor service or have gone to her doctor’s office or to an urgent care center."

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