Your post about the hospital bills reminded me that I just paid a $50 ER bill from this past February. The hospital sent us a bill for $650. Keith called them and said he didn't think we had any large outstanding bills with them any more, that the insurance had taken care of everything.
Well, a couple of weeks later, they phoned us and said the bill was a mistake. It should have read $50. They would send a corrected bill. They never did. Then a week ago, we got a dunning notice from saying if we didn't pay the $50, the bill would go into collections!
So they waited sveral months to issue the corrected bill and then blamed the patient for not paying it. When Keith called them back, they said they "couldn't stop" the letter from going out, that it was automatic. It seems to me that's their problem, too. So fix it already Oh wel, everything's the patient's fault. :evil:
Anyway, I paid it, and I hope we don't need any more ER services, although that flier Keith took on Friday made it a close call.
I'm sure many can relate to problems getting medical bills paid. It's nice, in a way, to know that I'm not alone, but I sure wish there was a simpler set up. 2 months of daily radiation treatments and tons of paperwork have left me going in circles. Time for someone else to look at it, and try to make sense of it. I know now that I will have to get better at being consistent about keeping better records and file complaints much sooner. I found a good site, thanks to Clark Howard, that gives lots of information that will help now and in the future.
$50 for a hospitial bill? I'll take it! I went to the ER almost 4 years ago for kidney stones and was there for 3 hrs and got one shot of Demerol and an X-Ray. A few months ago the took me to court for a bill of $6500.00!! First I even heard of the bill and it was covered by Medicare! It was tossed out of course but the aggrivation was huge as was the 'cost' they wanted.
My wife just had thryiod surgery and the bill for that and staying the night was $19,000 PLUS the Doctors etc! Someone isn't using a sharp pencil!.
Jim, we have an excellent HMO here called Secure Horizons. Keith's surgery, ICU, hospital, and rehab facility cost well over $100,000. They took care of nearly everything.
The first thing I was told was never to pay the hospital what they asked but to send the bill immediately to the insurance claims dept. At first I was terrified of all the big bills that rained on me, such as labs, but they took care of everything. One bill I received for $650 was some lab in Hollywood that neither Keith nor I had ever heard of! HMO took carfe of that, too, and we even got a letter of apology from the lab.
I can relate-- I'm the type of person who pays the bills before we get them---- you know have the co-payment check made out even before we see the doctor etc etc--
Had a similar probem with my husband and his foot---- we got all the bills except one------ sent out to our old address-- hadnt lived there for over 20 years------guess the hospital, labs and doctors dont cross reference-- not even with the same SS number----????? happy to say I got the right person on the phone who knew how to check a few things out---do a bit of back tacking-----
Jim your scaring me--- I'm supposed to have thyroid surgery too--
While the amounts that hospitals claim when they file with insurance companies are outrageous, the actual amounts that the insurers reimburse them are quite different. In 1998, for example, I had five kidney-stone procedures (ESWL = Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotrypsy) performed at the same hospital by the same doctor over a period of 5 months.
Each was an outpatient procedure, in which I was in the hospital for a total of about six hours. When I saw the EOBs from Medicare and Blue Cross, I was shocked. Hospital-only charges ranged from about $9K up to about $16K per visit, for the very same procedure. But what was interesting was the agreed-upon amounts that my insurers paid. Payments to the hospital were in the range of $1500 to $2300 for the five procedures.
Fortunately, I didn't have to pay anything at all. But I thought to myself, "Suppose I didn't have any health insurance or suppose that my insurers wouldn't pay anything." [This is a fantasy scenario, of course, since without insurance I probably would have been turned away at the door!] I guess my point is that the hospitals claim charges far in excess of what they will settle for, with the difference probably being written off as a financial loss. But what happens to people without good insurance coverage?
KimJack and others are right on. My cardiologist explained the process to me following my heart attack in 2003. The total bill came to $163,000 without his bill which was $40,000 alone. Blue Cross/Blue Shield has a set % that they pay and the medical folks know just how much to charge to get the "max" payout from the insurance company. Part of that % covers the hospital's write off for people that don't have insurance (because they know they can never pay) and the doctor get to write off a great % of their over inflated bill.
To add insult to injury it seem like I am still getting bills from various labs and other services 2 years later related to the same operation where I owe them between $50-$100 due to what my insurance did not cover.
But here is an interesting "rest of the story". If you do not have insurance an emergency room cannot refuse you treatment, they must "stablize you" first and then they can transfer you to a public charity hospital that cannot refuse anyone. Perhaps one of the most telling pictures from the Katrina situation was the picture of the helicopters evacuating patients from Tulane (where I had my operation) which does not treat you unless you have insurance, and the patients at Charity Hospital (which treats everyone) waiting in the wheelchairs to be air evacuated, which of course they never were and some died waiting. The two hospitals sit across the street from each other.
Health insurance coverage (or lack of affordable health coverage) is the #1 issue facing Americans today. Katrina has put alot of people out of work, which means loss of health coverage and puts them in the COBRA safety net (which is a whole other posting)
What they do Jack is if you don't have any insurance then this is the amount they want to collect and will demand. This is one of those things that has always made me mad. If you have medicare or insurance etc they charge say $10,000 and they accept $2,000 as payment in full with $8,000 forgiven. Now if you don';t have any insurance they want the entire $10,000! I know because we did not have insurance when Sylvia had her cancer surgery and they wanted $19,000 just for the hospitial alone!> They actuall said $11,000 at first and offered to call it even if we immediately paid them $2,500 in cash right then, immediately, now, etc, before the surgery. Of course we don't have that sitting around and could not come up with it in they two day timespan so we ended up getting the entire bill which came to a little over $19K! Stupid!