Hospital Slashes $109K Heart Attack Bill After Patient Tells Media His Story : Shots - Health News "I don't feel any consumer should have to go through this," says Drew Calver, of the huge surprise bill he got from an Austin hospital after his 2017 heart attack. He's worried about other patients.

His $109K Heart Attack Bill Is Now Down To $332 After NPR Told His Story

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Drew Calver has had a week. He's the high school teacher who after a heart attack was rushed to St. David's hospital near his home in Austin, Texas. Later he got a bill for more than a hundred thousand dollars.


This is called balance billing. It's when an insurer and a medical provider - St. David's in this case - can't agree on a bottom-line price for care. The balance gets passed on to the patient.

CHANG: In Drew Calver's case, that six-figure bill came with no warning. He and his wife say they don't even keep a credit card balance ever. With that huge bill, they were facing bankruptcy.

SHAPIRO: NPR and Kaiser Health News reported this story on Monday, and since then, there have been developments. Ashley Lopez from member station KUT in Austin has more.

ASHLEY LOPEZ, BYLINE: Shortly after this story aired, Drew Calver heard back from the hospital that had been sending him those six-figure bills. Calver now qualified for its financial assistance discount, which means instead of owing almost $109,000, Calver was getting a bill for...

DREW CALVER: Seven-hundred-eighty-two dollars and 29 cents.

LOPEZ: That's right. The bill went from more than a hundred thousand to less than a thousand overnight. Then on Thursday, the bill shrank some more. St. David's informed Calver that he really only had to pony up $332 to settle his bill.

CALVER: As soon as I saw that email, I just said, hey, when's the soonest I can pay that off so that it's completely over, you know? So it's a big relief.

LOPEZ: Calver says he's been contacted by people from around the country who are in similar situations. He says he's relieved his situation is settled, but he still can't quite believe it.

CALVER: I'm still a little bit in shock that - because we were going through it for so long, that in just a few days, it's over

LOPEZ: Calver credits the media attention, but he says it shouldn't be like this. Part of the reason he was stuck with this bill is that he unknowingly went to a hospital that was out of his insurance network. It was the closest hospital, though, and he was having a heart attack. Calver says someone in his situation should be able to go to any hospital and be covered. In the meantime, though, he says he is relieved this bill is off his back and he can go back to focusing on his health. For NPR News, I'm Ashley Lopez in Austin.

SHAPIRO: That story is part of Bill of the Month, part of NPR's reporting partnership with Kaiser Health News.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.