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Medical Billing

Medical Billing

Old Aug 12th 2005, 7:57 pm
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Default Medical Billing

There were a few threads a while ago about getting ripped off on medical billing...saw these articles on MSN Money today and thought they may be interesting for some, ring a few bells for others.....and be scarey for the rest!!

http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/...lth/P79883.asp
http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/...lth/P74840.asp

Ps - We're still battling a $750 charge for a cast for my 2 year olds broken arm - $250 for a strip of plaster, $250 for a strip of cotton wool, $250 for a strip of gauze!! They've gone quiet for a month now, so I'm guessing they've either given up or have sent it to debt collection.....I'm in "let sleepng dogs lie" mode with crossed fingers...........
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Old Aug 12th 2005, 8:28 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Originally Posted by Yorkieabroad
There were a few threads a while ago about getting ripped off on medical billing...saw these articles on MSN Money today and thought they may be interesting for some, ring a few bells for others.....and be scarey for the rest!!

http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/...lth/P79883.asp
http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/...lth/P74840.asp

Ps - We're still battling a $750 charge for a cast for my 2 year olds broken arm - $250 for a strip of plaster, $250 for a strip of cotton wool, $250 for a strip of gauze!! They've gone quiet for a month now, so I'm guessing they've either given up or have sent it to debt collection.....I'm in "let sleepng dogs lie" mode with crossed fingers...........

Prices are ridiculous and scary! I can see some charge for a cast - at least it is something substantial - but the rest is a joke!!

Fingers crossed for you - but my limited experience in this country would be to expect a call!
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Old Aug 13th 2005, 12:03 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

The chances of the medical bills going away is slim. The majority of medical providers will leave the account open, turn it over to a collection agency or turn it over to the credit bureau.

If they turn it over to the credit bureau, the first you will hear about it is when you pull a copy of your credit report, or you contact the medical provider to get a balance and they will tell you they can't give you the figure since it has been turned over to the credit bureau.

If they send it to a collection agency, they will send a couple of letters and if you don't respond with payment or some payment plan they will turn it over to a lawyer who will then file a Summons and Complaint with the local District or Circuit Court depending on the amount. If they are successful in getting a judgment (which they do 99.99999% of the time) that will sit and screw up your credit for ten years. It can go on indefinitely but they will have to renew it every ten years. Downside to this is that all the time it will be accruing interest at the rate of 12% and the court costs and lawyers fees will be added. If the bill is substantial, say in excess of $50,000.00, they can try and collect on the judgment there and then.

At the end of the day they will want payment and even though to them it is a small amount, it is rare that they. We have medical providers in our area that will turn a bill over to the collection agency even if the balance is $6.00.

Your best bet is to talk to the hospital and work out a payment plan, or better still, explain your circumstances and see if they will give you a discount. I have worked with hospitals who if you explain it all to them will either give a percentage discount or reduce the charge to what Blue Cross Blue Shield would have paid.

I am assuming you have not been in the US long enough for your children to qualify for Medicaid.

Hospital bills are outrageaous and it is hard to see how they can justify. It is scary to see itemized bills for surgeries when you see a charge of $12.00 for one Tylenol, or as much as $15.00 for one pair of surgical gloves.
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Old Aug 13th 2005, 1:24 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

I got charged the thick end of $500 to have a mole removed off my leg a few weeks ago. $250 for two stitches that were feking bodged up by some haitian quack who - get this - spent half the time on his mobile phone while doing the stitches. $60 for the actual slicing off of the mole, another $10 to slap a bit of neosporin on it, $100 just to say hello to me as I walked in the door and then some other sundry bits. And this was at a major clinic. It was ******* shoddy to be honest.


My wife is continously shocked and appalled by some of what goes on at the hospital she works in (this is a top 5 hospital for cardiac care) and the amount people are billed for bugger all. The whole medical system over here is about profit and nothing else.

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Old Aug 13th 2005, 5:14 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Originally Posted by Lynne
The chances of the medical bills going away is slim. The majority of medical providers will leave the account open, turn it over to a collection agency or turn it over to the credit bureau.

If they turn it over to the credit bureau, the first you will hear about it is when you pull a copy of your credit report, or you contact the medical provider to get a balance and they will tell you they can't give you the figure since it has been turned over to the credit bureau.
This happened to us once. we disputed a medical bill for $1500 for one of our kids ER visits- the only treatment he received was an examination from the doctor and basically a couple of tylenol- outrageous. The hospital went quiet and we thought they'd dropped it...5 years later we applied for a new mortgage to find the charge on our credit report. Contacted the hospital and they said that their standard procedure was to simply report to the credit bureaux instead of fighting about the bill and let the 'customer' contact them when they find they are being hampered by a negative charge on their credit. To get them to take it off our credit reports, we had to settle in full with no arguments...which is what we did. It took about a month to resolve and disappear from our credit...which held us up getting the new mortgage of course.

Yorkie- I'd ask the hospital for a discount and pay up...don't think British in this case. The bill will not go away, if they've gone quiet they may well have already reported to the credit bureaux.
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Old Aug 13th 2005, 5:42 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Yorkie- I'd ask the hospital for a discount and pay up...don't think British in this case. The bill will not go away, if they've gone quiet they may well have already reported to the credit bureaux.[/QUOTE]


yeah, we're not really expecting it to go away...The doctor and nurse and billing dept have all agreed that they have charged us for something we haven't had (ie 3 units of "special casting material", when we only had one) and we've got it in writing from them that they are reviewing it, and will revert. Until they do, I'm not going to chase them. If they don't come back with a sensible bill for what we actually received, a lawyer friend has advised that the most appropriate course of action is to refer it to the Office of the Attorney General...apparently its called "cramming" and its an offence in Texas.

At the end of the day, with a new mortgage looming before the end of the year, we can't afford to do anything to screw our credit, especially over a 750 bill which we reckon should be 500, but if I can get the thieving lying cheating scumbags to present a proper bill, I will.
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Old Aug 13th 2005, 6:06 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Originally Posted by Yorkieabroad
Yorkie- I'd ask the hospital for a discount and pay up...don't think British in this case. The bill will not go away, if they've gone quiet they may well have already reported to the credit bureaux.

yeah, we're not really expecting it to go away...The doctor and nurse and billing dept have all agreed that they have charged us for something we haven't had (ie 3 units of "special casting material", when we only had one) and we've got it in writing from them that they are reviewing it, and will revert. Until they do, I'm not going to chase them. If they don't come back with a sensible bill for what we actually received, a lawyer friend has advised that the most appropriate course of action is to refer it to the Office of the Attorney General...apparently its called "cramming" and its an offence in Texas. <<snip>>[/QUOTE]

Fortunately, I've never had to go to a US hospital for medical reasons yet but I do understand your frustration (my household had issues about billing for dental work).

Does the hospital billing department have a professional code of conduct about how disputes are handled? i.e. is it written anywhere (like their website) about timelines for handling disputes?



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Old Aug 13th 2005, 6:12 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Originally Posted by NC Penguin
Does the hospital billing department have a professional code of conduct about how disputes are handled? i.e. is it written anywhere (like their website) about timelines for handling disputes?
The only thing they usually understand is being hit with a lawsuit and as many government agencies as you can muster. Some ideas to start you off here.

Act like a total out-of-control sh*t and they'll back down a little. Don't feel guilty -- they started pulling the cr*p, not you! They often screw you so much it's usually well worth your time and effort in getting even.
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Old Aug 13th 2005, 6:16 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Originally Posted by fatbrit
The only thing they usually understand is being hit with a lawsuit and as many government agencies as you can muster. Some ideas to start you off here.

Act like a total out-of-control sh*t and they'll back down a little. Don't feel guilty -- they started pulling the cr*p, not you! They often screw you so much it's usually well worth your time and effort in getting even.
Or, if your local TV station has a consumer "gripes" segment, you might want to mention to your hospital billing department that you'll be contacting the TV station 'cos your story would be of interest to the local population. That might prompt some action...



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Old Aug 13th 2005, 6:16 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Fortunately, I've never had to go to a US hospital for medical reasons yet but I do understand your frustration (my household had issues about billing for dental work).

Does the hospital billing department have a professional code of conduct about how disputes are handled? i.e. is it written anywhere (like their website) about timelines for handling disputes?



NC Penguin[/QUOTE]

Unfortunatley its not an actual hospital - I wish it was (we had a similar problem with a bill from a hospital when my wife had our last baby and when we queried it and said asked for the contact for their compliance officer the bill was magically cancelled). This is with a Clinic we were referred to by the hospital to have the cast put on - its a small clinic, and when I asked their billing dept for the contact for their compliance officer they just laughed that they don't have one!! I think that is actually against Texas law too, by the way - even the smallest clinics are supposed to have a compliance officer and appeals/complaints procedure - their lack of same may be raised with the OAG if it comes to it, but hopefully it won't. The doctor who admitted that we had been charged for something we hadn't received is one of the 2 owners/partners in the clinic. I guess the buck stops with him, so hopefully he will see his way to doing the right thing without it getting silly.
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Old Aug 13th 2005, 6:18 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Originally Posted by Yorkieabroad
Fortunately, I've never had to go to a US hospital for medical reasons yet but I do understand your frustration (my household had issues about billing for dental work).

Does the hospital billing department have a professional code of conduct about how disputes are handled? i.e. is it written anywhere (like their website) about timelines for handling disputes?



NC Penguin
Unfortunatley its not an actual hospital - I wish it was (we had a similar problem with a bill from a hospital when my wife had our last baby and when we queried it and said asked for the contact for their compliance officer the bill was magically cancelled). This is with a Clinic we were referred to by the hospital to have the cast put on - its a small clinic, and when I asked their billing dept for the contact for their compliance officer they just laughed that they don't have one!! I think that is actually against Texas law too, by the way - even the smallest clinics are supposed to have a compliance officer and appeals/complaints procedure - their lack of same may be raised with the OAG if it comes to it, but hopefully it won't. The doctor who admitted that we had been charged for something we hadn't received is one of the 2 owners/partners in the clinic. I guess the buck stops with him, so hopefully he will see his way to doing the right thing without it getting silly.[/QUOTE]

Aside from my suggestion immediately above, since it's a small business, how about reporting them to the local BBB?



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Old Aug 13th 2005, 6:22 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Originally Posted by NC Penguin
Aside from my suggestion immediately above, since it's a small business, how about reporting them to the local BBB?
Or maybe not! Pretty well a waste of time organization. See here.

Hit 'em with organizations that have teeth. These are governmental ones.
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Old Aug 13th 2005, 6:23 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

From my experience with dealing with many hospitals in Alabama and Tennessee if you dispute a charge they will look into it pretty efficiently. They are also receptive if you offer to pay, say, $50.00 a month. There are however some who are just plain a$$holes and will not negotiate or offer any type of discount. It also makes a difference if the hospital is a non profit hospital, they are usually pretty good and will offer anything up to a 30% discount. One of our hospitals had a discount month. If you had a bill with them unpaid that was over 5 years old they gave you a 50% discount if you paid in full during a that month.

Not trying to defend hospitals but us Brits are not used to seeing what the charges are for any type of hospital treatment, unless we are private patients. Having said that, the charges are outrageous.

A few years back my husband suffered an injury while playing ice hockey. The local ambulance service came to the arena and took him to the local ER. The distance from the arena to ER was around 2 miles. For that we received a bill for $420.00. Medflight is even more expensive. Our local hospital charge a start up fee of $2,750.00 just for the helicoptor to take off. The average Medflight bill for our county is $5,000.00, the next County to us has an average charge of $9,000.00.

In the mid 80's my dad had surgery at Guy's Hospital in London as a private patient paid for by British Telecom. He was in hospital for two weeksand the total cost to BT was just under 15,000.00 pounds.

Unfortunately having surgery in the US does not mean just one bill. You have the OR charge, surgeon charge, anesthesiologist charge, pathologist charge and radiologist charge and any other "ologist" who shows up. Kind of reminds of me Maureen Lipman in the TV ad telling her grandson he needs an "ology". lolol
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Old Aug 13th 2005, 6:47 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Originally Posted by fatbrit
Hit 'em with organizations that have teeth. These are governmental ones.
Thats what my lawyer friend said too - hence the OAG.
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Old Aug 13th 2005, 6:49 pm
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Default Re: Medical Billing

Originally Posted by Lynne
They are also receptive if you offer to pay, say, $50.00 a month.
Thats fine if its a question of affordability - our argument is over $750 which we could easily afford to pay, but I just don't think we should as it is for items which we didn't receive...
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