Saturday, June 26, 2010


This is a rant. You were warned.

Joel got a call the other night from a collections agency. Something about a medical bill that wasn't paid. Hm. The usual stuff (I've been told) from a collections agency... bust your butt to try to get payment.

Of course, he was driving and couldn't whip out his wallet, not that he would anyway.

I went back through our big wad (by wad, I mean neatly organized file folder) of claim receipts from the insurance company and bills received. We never got the stupid bill!

So I start thinking (probably a good time for that, anyway). Let me get this straight: we work our rear-ends off to keep our credit in amazing standing (I think we've been late on a max of 3 payments in my entire life). We pay off our credit cards every month. We repay all debts, both official and not, and are as organized as we can possibly be with our payments. I file everything, we pay everything through our bill pay system so we have record, etc. (Ps. Lana, shhhh. That was $3 for girl scout cookies.)

And, how many claim receipts and bills did we receive from providers out in California from Joel's accident? Thousands. How many had the correct information, eg. phone, address? All of them. How many payments did we send out... usually only a day or two after we received the bill? All of them. Well. Except the helicopter bill yet. Anyone else have $21,000 sitting around for medical bills? Didn't think so. Plus the provider is still appealing with the insurance company. Another day for that story.

Now I'm mad. We have the some of the best credit for people our age. And, now this stupid little bill for $92 is trying to ruin everything! (Maybe Joel's right... I am a bit of a drama queen. heh.) And the worst part is, it's out of our control. We have no information from this bill aside from what was sent to us in the claim receipt.... thank goodness for those, by the way. How are we supposed to pay a bill when we don't get it?!

I just hate being out of control. ;)

So I hop on google (wait, is someone going to call google and tell them that I used their name on my blog?) "my default search engine" and try to find this company. Can't find it. Finally found a contact number off some website for them... which doesn't work.

So, I give our insurance a quick call.. ended up talking to someone from Appleton, and she was giving me advice about collections agencies, etc. Finally got some information on the provider, though.

Phew. Now, we're getting somewhere.

Let's take a little break here to explain this particular bill. Maybe someone can help me out with this. There was one ambulance provider to prep the ground for the helicopter, give Joel his neck brace, and charge us $1000. Then there was the helicopter to make jokes about Joel fitting into the rig, save his life during the 100-mile flight to the hospital, and charge us $26,900. Then there was this second ambulance provider to.. do what?! They only billed us $550 or something like that, which we only had to pay $92 of.. but still. I'd like to know why there needed to be two different ambulance providers. Was this second one based out of the hospital? Did they prep for the helicopter's return landing? This little bill screwing everything up is meaningless?


Finally, the anticipated call to the ambulance provider. The name on the automated line is different. Hm. Well, maybe it's a conglomerate out there. Get to talk to a person after 10 minutes.

Her: "What's your ticket number?"

Me: "See, we never got a bill."

Her: "What's your name?"

Me: "This is regarding my husband, Joel.. blah blah. We never got a bill so we don't have any information at all. blah blah"

Her: "I'm sorry, I don't think that's us. I don't think we have any providers under that name. And, I can't find his name."

This goes on for awhile. I'll spare you.

Turns out, they did have a group in Palm Springs under that name, and lo-and-behold, she was spelling our last name wrong. Have you heard our last name? Then you can spell it.

I explain to her that we never received a bill from them, and that it was now sent to collections.. and conveyed my anger to her. Decided not to bring up the question of what the heck they were doing there. She wasn't too bright.

She did nothing about it, but gave me an invalid ticket number and sent me to the insurance information part of collections. After being re-routed to the correct place, I learned that they had just acquired our account within the last week.

On the basis of credit protection, I paid via phone... violating my deep-rooted principles of using our bill pay for all our medical bills. She swore up and down that she would send us a receipt of our payment.. possibly at my threat of hunting her down and knocking her senseless. Heh, just kidding. Maybe.

Sigh. There's so much incompetence in the medical billing/insurance field. If they want true health care/insurance reform, don't give the insurance companies more power and support... make them actually reform and simplify their processes. Design a way for the billing and the insurance companies to work together for the same goal... which I'm assuming is money all around.

In this process, I found another claim receipt that we hadn't received a bill yet for either. Thankfully, this was a provider in Appleton for like $10. I didn't even ask them for a reason... just told them to send me the bill. It's so much easier to deal with people locally than in California. :p

It's a good thing Joel is worth all this. :)

1 comment:

Jon Myers said...

You can dispute claims on your credit record if they ding it too much because of that, just make sure the collection agency follows through with the payment... make sure that receipt/letter comes and hopefully you have the person's name who handled it so they/you can track it. Being that you paid it fairly quick I don't think it will affect your score that much?? I wouldn't fret over a few points especially at this age... when I bought my house (at 24) I was in the high 700s and a few years ago when I got a loan the bank said I was in low 800s, not sure where I'm at since I got rid of a couple credit cards that weren't really doing me any good and they lowered my credit limit (because I wasn't using them) to less than what I started out with 8-9 years ago on them. I'm bad in the sense that I never really check my score and rarely check my credit report! Because to me that's a big farce for "honest" people anyway, but I guess they have to try to weed out the dishonest somehow, not that it really seemed to matter 2-10 years ago when everyone and their dead grandma could buy a house.

I've read that this is common practice if they can't get the bill delivered that they turn it over to collection agency because it costs them too much money to try to track you down, so they essentially sell it to the collection agency for less than what you owe and the collection agencies are set up to find people any way they can (even facebook sometimes I've read) and they make their money by charging you the full amount + some usually.

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