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Swedish, Providence to pay $1.4 million over out-of-network lab

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says the affiliated Providence and Swedish health care providers have agreed to pay $1.4 million for failing to tell patients that a pathology lab was out-of-network for their insurance.

Ferguson says Providence facilities in Western Washington and Swedish facilities exclusively used a company called CellNetix for the testing, but failed to tell patients when Premera Blue Cross pulled CellNetix from its network from early 2015 to early 2016 over a contract dispute.

More than 6,400 patients faced unexpected charges of as much as $7,000. Many complained — including a Providence doctor, who said he himself faced out-of-network costs when he underwent surgery in 2015.

As part of the settlement announced Thursday, Providence Health & Services and Swedish Health Services agreed to pay $385,000 in restitution to those patients as well as $1 million to the Attorney General’s Office for the costs of the investigation and consumer protection efforts.