CINICO says it will settle Miami hospital bills lawsuit

Cayman Islands Insurance Company CEO Lonny Tibbetts says the national insurer will settle two U.S. lawsuits over unpaid bills at two South Florida hospitals.

The University of Miami Hospital and Aventura Hospital near Fort Lauderdale sued CINICO two weeks ago, accusing the company of not paying almost US$1.5 million in hospital bills. In two separate lawsuits filed in U.S. federal court, the hospitals stated they treated 10 patients covered by the government insurance plan between late 2012 through 2013.

CINICO, a government-owned insurance company for public employees and low-income Caymanians, regularly sends people to Florida for treatment. The unpaid bills, according to exhibits filed with the lawsuits, are for a range of hospital visits from a $200 emergency room bill to hundreds of thousands of dollars for surgery.

Mr. Tibbetts called the unpaid bills a “misunderstanding.” He said the mix-up goes back to the company it had hired previously to handle insurance claims and payments in the United States. That company, Simplifi, sued CINICO last year in a different court and accused the insurer of canceling its contract without giving written notice. The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. federal court in Ohio, continues.

“These claims got derailed and we didn’t know where they were,” Mr. Tibbetts said of the two hospitals’ bills.

Mr. Tibbetts said he and the attorney for the hospitals are in negotiations to get the bills paid off and settle the two new suits filed in Miami.

He said CINICO has been relying on doctors and hospitals to get in touch with the company to collect on unpaid bills as it continues to sort out old claims that were handled by Simplifi. Mr. Tibbets said, “Normally, when you owe somebody money, they knock on your door and say ‘Hey dude, you owe us this money.’”

Mr. Tibbetts said the attorney representing the hospitals had sent CINICO letters demanding payment, but the company never responded. He said the bills would be paid as soon as Thursday.

The attorney for the hospitals was not available for comment.