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Anthem man stuck waiting 13 months for back surgery bill to be paid

ANTHEM, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — These days, John Mezydlo says being able to walk his dog is a pleasure. That’s because 13 months ago, surgery corrected almost all of his painful back problems. “We’re wonderful right now,” he said, smiling. “Yes, there’s zero pain. The surgery itself was a huge success.”

However, Mezydlo is now stuck with a different kind of pain, trying to convince Solidarity HealthShare to pay his medical bills. “My hospital bill totaled around $119,000, and it hasn’t been paid yet,” he said.

Solidarity HealthShare is based out of Tempe, and it should be noted that Solidarity is not an insurance company. Instead, it’s a HealthShare Ministry. In Mezydlo’s words, individuals pay a monthly premium to be added to a “big pot.” “Then all of that money goes to paying people’s claims like mine,” he said. “Except mine is not being paid.”

As a result, John recently received a letter from his medical providers saying his $119,000 in hospital bills would be sent to collections. John says he keeps asking Solidarity to pay at least something out of that pot of money he contributes to in order to avoid collections. On Your Side has also asked Solidarity HealthShare to review John’s account and consider making a payment.

In the meantime, the team also reached out to the Arizona Department of Insurance for advice. “When it comes to healthcare sharing ministries, those protections for consumers do not exist,” James McCullen, a spokesman for the agency, said. He said the Department of Insurance cannot get involved in John’s case or give advice because it regulates insurance companies, not HealthShare ministries.

“HealthShare industries are defined in our statute as not being an insurance product, so they operate very differently from the way insurance products do,” McCullen said. Mezydlo said he now knows the difference. After On Your Side’s inquiry, Solidarity HealthShare wrote to the team and said the organization “expects the matter to be resolved no later than Jan. 31.”

Solidarity also said the $119,000 bill had been resolved “before you [On Your Side] contacted us last week.” Mezydlo said that statement was untrue since he dedicated 13 months to resolving his bill. He said he credits On Your Side for getting it done. “This absolutely, without a doubt, was resolved with the help of Gary Harper and On Your Side,” he said. “It’s a huge relief to know it’s on its way to being resolved.” Solidarity HealthShare was very responsive, and there will be an update later in January to ensure the matter is fully taken care of.

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