KUSA investigative reporter Chris Vanderveen, investigative producer Katie Wilcox and photojournalist/editor Anna Hewson have produced more than 36 in-depth stories and two hours of prime-time specials about Colorado patients who were willing to share their detailed medical records to prove that hospitals, clinics, doctors and other caregivers game the system to charge patients for care that was never provided. And, the team learned, when patients can’t or don’t pay, they risk their homes and their credit ratings.
The Show Us Your Bills investigations have helped viewers erase nearly $300,000 in medical overcharges and billing errors. Every time 9News airs a story, another dozen viewers send them detailed highly personal medical bills looking for help. The series caught fire when 9News reported the story of a man who went to the emergency room to have a splinter removed from his thumb.
“He got a $2,100 bill,” Vanderveen said. “That seemed stupid.”
“We didn’t have any intention of following medical billing stories for years, but at the end of that first story we put up an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and it became a treasure trove of stories. People were willing to send us their medical bills,” he said. “I knew they were mad but I didn’t know they were that mad.”