CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- A warning to anyone planning to give birth or have a procedure done at a Novant Health hospital in Charlotte: You could end up with a surprisingly high bill for anesthesiology services that could cost you thousands in out-of-pocket costs, even if you have insurance.

“It’s just insane to me that they could sleep at night.”

Monica and Michael Dickerson were overjoyed the day they welcomed their daughter Olivia into the world at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center.

They planned and saved, but nothing prepared them for the $8,000 bill they received from Providence Anesthesiology Associates. The couple says none of it was covered by insurance.

Novant Health is caught in the middle of a complex feud between United Healthcare and PAA, the exclusive provider of anesthesiology services for Novant’s Charlotte market. Their battle puts the financial burden on patients like the Dickersons.

“We were completely shocked and the whole time we were kind of told, oh don’t worry, just put in an appeal.”

The couple says they have exhausted all their appeal attempts through PAA.

“We hand wrote an appeal, which is what you’re supposed to do, snail mailed it to United Healthcare and just last week we received our official denial from them that they were not going to change anything. So now, we are basically at the point where we are probably going to have to look into taking legal action or something. We don’t really know where to go from here,” Michael Dickerson says.

PAA says United Healthcare suddenly kicked them out of network after a long-standing relationship. Negotiations have been ongoing for more than a year. Since March 1, 2020, UHC stopped covering PAA’s services.

“Nobody mentioned that they were out-of-network and I didn’t have any experience to think to ask that because we’ve delivered there. We were at Novant Matthews two previous times and no experience like that whatsoever.”

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Amy Daniels delivered her third child at Novant Matthews in May. She was shocked when PAA billed her $8,000 for her epidural.

“The last birth, same insurance and everything, and he was only $850, so it’s crazy.”

The Dickersons say $850 is around what they were expecting too. They say if they had known beforehand that PAA’s services were no longer covered by United Healthcare, they would have explored other options.

“We could’ve switched to Atrium. And, we would have,” Michael Dickerson says.

Both groups say the other is at fault for driving up patients’ medical bills.

A UHC spokesperson said in a statement, “Providence Anesthesia was demanding to be paid more than double the median rate we pay its peers, driving up the cost of care for the people and customers we serve.”

PAA argues its rates are competitive. A statement sent to Fox 46, says in part, “We are making it our priority to get back in network with UHC and to shield patients from these financial burdens of balance bills as much as possible.” 

As the fight continues, Daniels encourages people to be proactive.

“I mean, I guess going in now ask like, is this in-network? Is this in-network?”

Novant Health says it wants all parties involved to come back to the negotiating table to find a quick, reasonable solution. They also strongly encourage PAA to do what it can to ensure patients are not burdened with higher-than-expected charges for their services while negotiations are ongoing.

Providence Anesthesiology has set-up an assistance hotline. Patients are encouraged to call 704-749-5801, before making a payment. Patients can also share their concerns with the North Carolina Department of Insurance by calling toll-free at 855-408-1212.