Much ado has been made lately about the rising costs of healthcare and for good reason too. Health Insurance is expensive, even with subsidies. Even if you have decent health insurance, the hospital copay and deductible can cost a small fortune. This is WITH health insurance. Without health insurance, you’re really in trouble. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. Given the lack of Medicaid expansion in Florida, this can be a big problem. Anyone who has seen their medical bills will certainly balk at individual items. Many people complain about single doses of over the counter drugs costing $10-$20.
These seem like pretty anti-consumer practices, right? They can be. In Colomar v. Mercy Hosp, 461 F. Supp.2d 1265 (S. D. Fla. 2006), a Court determined that these kinds of practices can lead to a claim of unfairness, which is prohibited under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUPTA). Specifically, the Court found that Plaintiff might have a valid claim where she was charged $12,863 where the value of the services received were only $2,098, the hospital charged uninsured patients 450% that of Medicaid patients, and their cost-to-charge ratio was almost 400%, among other factors. The Court determined that this practice could constitute unconscionability.
If you feel you a hospital has overcharged you for being uninsured, you may have a claim under FDUPTA. A prevailing Plaintiff can also obtain attorney’s fees from the losing party. The downside is that a prevailing Defendant, in some circumstances can obtain an award of attorney’s fees from a non-prevailing Plaintiff. Consult with a consumer law attorney to determine if a FDUPTA claim is right for you.