Plant City kidney patient promised no bill for experimental treatment, then sent to collections

8 On Your Side

PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Plant City man says he’s been charged thousands of dollars for a kidney treatment he was told wouldn’t cost him a dime.

The treatment center, Florida Cancer Specialists in Brandon, said it would take care of the bill but instead sent Jimmy Harrell to collections.

Harrell, who turns 67 Friday, has struggled with kidney disease, heart disease, and colon cancer in the last few years, racking up more medical bills than most people will in a lifetime.

When his nephrologist suggested an experimental injection treatment for his kidney disease, Harrell agreed to try only if he could afford it.

Harrell was referred to FCS where he says they assured him insurance would cover most of the injfections. The remainder would be covered by the drug company that makes the injections.

Harrell was promised he wouldn’t pay a cent.

So, imagine his surprise when a bill for more than $3,300 showed up a couple months later. Harrell says he took the bill straight to the treatment center.

When he asked why he received the unexpected bill, Harrell says FCS told him he should not have.

“It should have been taken care of,” he recounted.

Harrell was told not to worry about the bill, and he didn’t. Until another came about a month later. Once again, he went to FCS for an explanation.

This time, Harrell says he learned he was charged for the treatment because the center did not fill out the proper paperwork for the pharmaceutical company to reimburse. Once again FCS assured him they would take care of it.

“We didn’t hear nothing,” Harrell says. “And then we got another bill.”

That carousel of confusion continued until this week, when Harrell was finally served a collections notice for the unpaid bill. That’s when he and his wife contacted 8 On Your Side.

On top of his physical health, Harrell’s financial health was now in jeopardy too. To make matters worse, Harrell says the injections had no impact on his kidney disease, a risk he knew going into the treatment but was willing to take because he wasn’t on the hook.

“It you weren’t going to do it, you should have told me at the start,” Harrell said, referring to the treatment center’s paperwork lapse. “I never would have had the injections.”

8 On Your Side reached out to Florida Cancer Specialists for an explanation of the charges.

Within hours, the Harrells received a phone call telling them their account had been sent to collections in error. FCS would be reversing the collections notice, and handling the bill.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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