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Metro Detroit woman charged for COVID vaccine in billing error

Posted at 4:58 PM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 18:16:12-04

TROY, Mich- (WXYZ) — Like a well-oiled machine, Ascension MyHealth Urgent Care in Troy is administering about 500 vaccines a day, giving a dose of immunity to people like Amy Barris.

“It was very organized, I was thankful to get it,” Barris said.

Barris got her vaccine last month, and during check-in she provided her insurance. She was told the vaccine was free, but a few weeks later a bill arrived in the mail.

"I was quite shocked to say the least,” Barris said. “I'm like 'why the heck am I receiving a bill for something that’s supposed to be free?'”

The bill showed the vaccine was free, the administration was covered by insurance, but the urgent care visit cost $125. Her copay with Blue Care Network was $40.

“It was just an accident,” said Sarah Horn, General Manager with Ascension MyHealth Urgent Cares. "They definitely don’t owe co-pays. There's no cost associated with a patient.”

Horn says since the vaccine clinic is an urgent care, their billing process looks different to the insurance companies than a vaccine clinic run by a pharmacy or health department.

“When we bill, it’s 'place of service 20' which is an urgent care setting," Horn explained. "So for some of these capitated payers, it almost looks like a visit.”

Insurance companies are supposed to pay all the fees associated with the vaccine, and a government fund covers those who are uninsured. With the vaccine being so new, billing for it correctly is checked manually.

“Every visit they have to manually go through all of the charge entry just to make sure that everything is appropriated, modifiers are added to certain items not other line items, so there’s a lot of work that goes into it,” Horn said.

The urgent care says they spoke with Barris, and the bill is now cleared up. She does not owe a copay.

“I'm just thankful and excited to go back and get my next vaccine,” Barris said.

While it's uncommon, these billing mistakes do happen. Ascension MyHealth is making the message clear, no matter where you get your shot it’s still free. If you are billed by mistake, call the clinic before you pay.

“We hope that things like this don't happen in the future, but once in a blue moon someone slips through the cracks,” Horn said.

MyHealth Ascension offers the vaccine at both their Troy and Southfield locations. You can find appointments on their website,