Supreme Court rules in favor of petitioner in French v. Centura Health case

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

After a hospital gave an incorrect price estimate to a patient, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the patient should not have to pay the amount reflected in the hospital’s chargemaster for the French v. Centura Health case.

Lisa Melody French, the petitioner, presented at Centura Health Corporation and Catholic Health Initiatives Colorado d/b/a St. Anthony North Health Campus (Centura) for a spinal fusion surgery. Before the procedure, Centura reviewed French’s insurance and determined she would be responsible for $1,336.90. Afterward, Centura realized it had read the insurance card incorrectly and that French was an out-of-network patient. The hospital then billed her $229,112.13, a price reflecting its full chargemaster rates.

After French refused to pay, Centura sued her for breach of contract. Although none of the documents she signed included direct mention of the chargemaster, the hospital service agreements stated that she agreed to pay “all charges of the hospital,” which Centura argued included the chargemaster rates.

However, since French did not know about or assent to the chargemaster, the Colorado Supreme Court determined the chargemaster was not incorporated by reference.

Editor’s note: Access more NAHRI resources on pricing, price transparency, and the No Surprises Act.