Hospital's "usual and customary" charges can be more than average patient pays
Kellie Holland was uninsured when she needed treatment for a kidney stone. In order to secure treatment, she signed a contract that bound her to pay for her care at the Trinity Health Care Corporation Medical Center's "usual and customary charges..." When Trinity sued Holland, she argued that since most Trinity "customers" don't pay the defined "Charge Master" cost, but rather pay the discounted insurer rate, she should only have to pay the lower rate. In other words, she argued that "usual and customary charges" was an ambiguous phrase that could denote what the average patient pays. If ambiguous language was incorporated in to the Hospital contract, it could only charge her the smaller fee.
The Court disagreed and required Holland to pay the inflated rate not reduced by a contract with an insurer: the judges concluded that it was the "customary charge" not the "customary payment" that was incorported into Holland's contract.