ILNews

Hospital wins on uninsured patients’ appeal of rates charged

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled in favor of a hospital’s motion to dismiss a complaint brought by uninsured patients regarding the rates charged by the hospital, finding the patients’ complaint failed to state facts on which the trial court could have granted relief.

Abby Allen and Walter Moore brought a putative class-action complaint against Clarian Health Partners Inc. in 2010 on behalf of themselves and other uninsured recipients of Clarian’s services since May 2000. They claimed that the hospital breached its contract with them by charging unreasonable fees after they received medical treatment. Before receiving treatment, Allen and Moore signed the standard form of contract agreeing to pay their accounts, but the contracts didn’t specify a fee schedule. They were charged based on Clarian’s chargemaster rates.

The trial court granted Clarian’s – now Indiana University Health – motion to dismiss, but the Court of Appeals reversed in October 2011, finding the price for services rendered to be a missing and essential term of the contract.

But Justice Robert Rucker wrote that a contract doesn’t need to state a specific dollar amount for goods or services in order to be enforceable. He pointed out that the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has found that omitting a specific dollar amount is “the only practical way in which the obligations of the patient to pay can be set forth, given the fact that nobody yet knows just what condition the patient has, and what treatments will be necessary to remedy what ails him or her.”

The justices disagreed with the patients’ contention that their promise to pay “the account” for treatment is indefinite and therefore can’t constitute a price term for the hospital’s services.

“Many courts have addressed contracts similar to those of Patients’ and most have held that price terms in these contracts, while imprecise, are not sufficiently indefinite to justify imposition of a ‘reasonable’ price standard,” Rucker wrote in Abby Allen and Walter Moore v. Clarian Health Partners, Inc., 49S02-1203-CT-140.

The high court declined to extend Stanley v. Walker, 906 N.E.2d 852 (Ind. 2009), to actions for breach of contract and decided to align with courts that have recognized the uniqueness of the market for health care services delivered by hospitals.

By resolving the breach of contract claim, the justices didn’t rule on the patients’ declaratory judgment claim.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • er ok whatever
    We'll see this issue again. The hospitals cant just charge whatever they want. This ripoff will be challenged again and a more artful complaint will prevail.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Is it possible to amend an order for child support due to false paternity?

  2. He did not have an "unlicensed handgun" in his pocket. Firearms are not licensed in Indiana. He apparently possessed a handgun without a license to carry, but it's not the handgun that is licensed (or registered).

  3. Once again, Indiana's legislature proves how friendly it is to monopolies. This latest bill by Hershman demonstrates the lengths Indiana's representatives are willing to go to put big business's (especially utilities') interests above those of everyday working people. Maassal argues that if the technology (solar) is so good, it will be able to compete on its own. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about the industries he represents. Instead, he wants to cut the small credit consumers get for using solar in order to "add a 'level of certainty'" to his industry. I haven't heard of or seen such a blatant money-grab by an industry since the days when our federal, state, and local governments were run by the railroad. Senator Hershman's constituents should remember this bill the next time he runs for office, and they should penalize him accordingly.

  4. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  5. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

ADVERTISEMENT