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Lawsuit filed against Premier Health, surgeon

An Oakwood man and parents of a Shelby County teen have filed a lawsuit arguing they were unfairly charged high medical bills when they went to an in-network hospital for care but were unknowingly given an out-of-network plastic surgeon who did the work

The patients are seeking class action status in a suit filed May 2 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. The suit is against the hospital operator, Premier Health, and the on-call plastic surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Christman.

RELATED: Family hit with $17,000 bill after going to in-network hospital

The plaintiffs, represented by Sadlowski & Besse, are asking the court to declare their case a class action lawsuit. They are also asking the court to declare the acts alleged in the lawsuit to be unlawful and for the court to stop Premier and Christman from “engaging in further unlawful activity.” The plaintiffs are seeking damages to be determined at trial as well as attorneys fees paid for.

“We have no comment on this case at this time,” Premier Health said in a statement.

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Christman deferred to his attorney Caroline Gentry, with Porter Wright, who did not return requests for comment.

The first plaintiff, Reid Rupp, 20, of Oakwood, was taken by ambulance to Miami Valley Hospital after a bicycle accident December 2016 at Miami University, where he is a student. He received plastic surgery for injuries to his face and jaw, the lawsuit states.

Christman and Miami Valley Hospital officials did not disclose prior to performing the surgery that he was not in-network with any insurance company, the lawsuit states.

If Christman was in network with Rupp’s insurance, Anthem, Christman’s practice and the insurer would have a pre-agreed discounted rate.

Since there was not an in-network deal, the lawsuit said the insurer paid Christman about $1,823, which the insurer considered to be a fair price. Christman said a fair price was $19,108. Rupp was eventually named responsible for a $17,031 balance.

Rupp’s medical bills at Miami Valley Hospital totaled more than of $70,000 and his insurer paid for all services except the balance of the bill from Christman, the lawsuit states.

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The other plaintiffs are Ed and Kristen Garrett, the Sidney parents of a 17-year-old boy. Their son, covered under their insurance policy, was flown by helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital October 2016 following a car crash, according to the suit.

The suit says the insurer paid Christman $13,140 which the insurer considered the amount that it would have paid if Christman was in-network. The Garretts were billed by Christman for a $9,458 balance.

In total, the Garretts medical bills at Miami Valley Hospital were more than $200,000, the suit says. The Garretts’ insurer paid for all services except the balance of the bill they received from Christman because he did not accept insurance and was considered out-of-network.

“Upon information and belief, both Premier and Dr. Christman have received numerous complaints and grievances from patients over the course of years regarding their illegal and unethical conduct,” the lawsuit states. “Nonetheless, Defendants have knowingly and willfully continued the foregoing scheme because both Defendants gain financially by continuing to generate increased medical fees.”

RELATED: Anthem criticized here for cutting some non-emergency ER coverage

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