When an Omaha woman hobbled into an emergency clinic she was shocked by the response. She says they refused to treat her.
“It made me worried.” Krystal Loudermilk had a pain in the foot. “This was really, really sore.” But she limped out of an initial visit to Urgent Care Bellevue, which denied treatment because she refused to become her sister's keeper.
“They told me my sister could not be seen because I have an unpaid medical bill,” said Tasha Loudermilk.
“I said that's a bunch of baloney and walked off,” said Krystal, whose insurance card didn't get her past the front desk.
Krystal claims that while filling out paperwork, the conversation with an Urgent Care staff member turned from medical to family history, specifically her sister's unpaid $400 bill. The sisters once shared a house, but not the collections bill sent to that address.
“They told me well, the only way we can see you is if you pay that in full,” said Krystal. “So I have to pay someone else's bill that lived in the household to get services? I don't think that's fair.”
The CEO of Urgent Care Bellevue said he can't comment on the claim because of federal privacy or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws, but did tell Fact Finders that generally they don't turn anyone away.
“I know I owe this bill.” Tasha doesn’t deny the bill and said she and her sister were owed and got an apology from a supervisor. “Of course I was upset, there's no reason why my sister should be denied services because of an unpaid bill that I have. That is not her responsibility and for them to request she pay it in full is not okay.”
Krystal accepted an invitation to go back and Urgent Care Bellevue examined her foot and prescribed treatment, but that won't quickly heal the irritation of being turned away the first time.
Urgent Care Bellevue CEO Scott Cooney said the clinic has a proud record of serving the community. The Nebraska Department of Health won't investigate because the clinic is not tied to a hospital.