(01 Aug 2005 at 18:32)
|The medical industry has some of the most incomprehensible billing practices I have ever endured. I often receive invoices for services rendered like six months ago (maybe they think that, if I am feeling better from that illness by now, I must be grateful enough to pay), with unexplained numbers all over the place and opaque abbreviations (despite the fact that the page is usually almost totally empty) to the point where I'm like, what the hell is this?. Sometimes they say "this is not a bill" on them, which is even more confusing. Actually, I expect that some day there will be a law that simplifies medical billing, in the same way that the FCC in 2000 introduced regulations to prevent "slamming" and "cramming" (I love those terms) on telephone bills.
Anyway, the point of this is that today I received another inscrutable communique from some blood diagnostics or strep culture or whatever lab, in reference to work probably done over a year ago, but this one had a checque for $86 attached to it, because apparently I had paid some bill six months ago where in fact "this is not a bill." Score!
|My lawyer sister in law says that when you get silly medical bills like that, you should call them up and say that you're not going to pay it, or at least to demand an itemized list of what the charges are for. Most times you'll end up paying a lot less than what's printed on the not-a-bill.
|In late 2004, well over a year after the services were performed, my wife and I kept receiving not-a-bills from our insurance company for an MRI she was given in 2003. Everything on the statements indicated that we owed nothing including the words "YOU OWE" followed by a box that contained "$0.00". Then, we starting receiving threatening phone calls from a collection agency who, when we insisted that whatever problem existed was with the insurance company and not us, said, "Don't be a deadbeat. Just pay the bill." One simple call to our insurance company confirmed that we had paid our share, but unfortunately, by the time we sorted it out and called the collection agency back, the woman who accused us of being deadbeats had mysteriously disappeared into the corporate ether. Hopefully it was a permanent move.
Money returned freely from a medical establishment... Isn't that a Chance card in Monopoly?