Hospital volunteer stuck with big bill from his own ER

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Nina Pineda reports on the hospital volunteer's hefty hospital bill.

He's studying to be a physicians assistant so this student is not scared of needles.

He didn't even feel the minor pinprick that was enough to warrant a lab test. But the volunteer followed hospital protocol to get tested as a precaution. Two years later he was still paying the price

Pre-med student Greg Cassella doesn't even remember which finger he pricked back in the fall of 2015, but he can't forget the amount of the bill, $1,747.

The SUNY-Albany undergrad was working as a student volunteer, cleaning up a room in the ER at Albany Memorial Hospital, when he felt a used hypodermic needle puncture his hand. He alerted a nurse who sent him for a routine test.

"Everyone told me I was covered by worker's comp. It was just the procedure that everyone has to do when they get pricked," recalls Greg.

And the hospital would cover the simple lab test which turned out negative. But he was positively billed more than $1700 for the Emergency Room, where he worked.

"I was living in Albany at the time so I went in person to the billing department and they said there was nothing they could do. I wasn't a paid employee so I don't get worker's comp," said Greg.

So the 21-year-old put the claim through his own insurance, but that was denied.

Nothing happened for over a year. Then Greg suddenly got slapped with a threatening collection notice.

So we contacted Albany Memorial Hospital and asked them to resurrect Greg's claim.

"This is my letter saying I'm clear and my credit score's not affected," beamed Greg.

His medical bill finally reflects zero balance.

"I was so relieved. I can't believe you could do it in four days what I couldn't do for two years," said Greg.

A hospital rep told us this matter was cleared weeks before we contacted them. But that was news to Greg. He says he never received any word from the hospital or the collection agency until after we got involved.

The big takeaway before you open your heart and volunteer or begin an internship: Find out what's the policy if you get injured on the grounds - are you or your child covered.

Greg never knew that neither his workplace, his parents' medical insurance or his school wouldn't cover student volunteers.

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