Monday, May 06, 2013

The Saga of Paying the Hospital Bill

And it is an interesting story. I will start out by saying that I have not paid the full amount of the bill. This bill is for the scan I got back at the end of December when it was thought I might have an appendicitis. So I still owe money for that but well here’s the tale.

I think this best sums up what’s been happening with my attempts to pay the bill. So I’ll start in the present and then go back over what’s been happened.

Saturday in the mail I got a letter from what I guess is the collection agency for the hospital. The letter was in pink. Get it in pink to show it was a past due amount. It said their records didn’t reflect any recent payments which is true but that would be because I hadn’t received a bill. There was a contact number where I called and left a message.

This morning I wrote out a check not for the whole amount but for a good part of it. I went to put the check along with the payment stub into the provided envelope. One little problem the payment stub was too big to fit into the envelope. It was too wide so I folded it. I tried again to put it into the envelope and again it was too big. This time the statement was too high. So I got to practice my origami skills in attempting to fit the payment stub into the envelope.

That sums up how easy it is to pay the bill.

So now we go back to the start of this little saga.

I decided I would use the money in my health flexible spending account to pay for part of the bill. I had around $370 or so left in it. It was actually a weird amount because I’d used it to pay for part of my gum graft. I filled out the payment form put in the credit card information and mailed it off. I got the bill the next month and the payment had not been credited to my account. I decided I’d try again.

I have no idea why this never went through but I was a month off in my payment schedule because of this. Now with the flexible spending account once the hospital process the payment the company handling the account comes along and says please provide a receipt of what this payment is for. Well I waited and waited and waited and finally got contacted by the flex spending company. But it was a long time.

Along comes the next bill and I make another payment. I figure in like three more months I’ll have this all paid off. Hah! Along comes the next bill and there the amount owed hasn’t changed. I’m thinking did another payment disappear into the ether? I did a little research. No, the bill didn't disappear; it took the hospital four weeks to cash the check. Four weeks.

Now I need to add what makes the "bills" from the hospital so very very special. In just about any other bill that I have ever received ever the bill is set up along these lines. At the top of the statement is a line that shows the previous balance. There is then a section where payments are listed. There the date the company received the payment, there might be some information on what type of payment like a credit card or a check, and then there is the amount of the payment. The last line of the statement is current balance or amount owed something along those lines.

Well this hospital doesn’t do their "bills" that way at all. On their bills there is one line that says payments. It shows the total amount of payments to date. It doesn’t break down when those payments were received or how much the payments were. So in order to figure out if a payment has been credited you need to have the previous bill to compare the two. It baffles me why this would in any way shape or form be called a “bill.”

But it gets even better.

If you need what passes as an actual bill that lists all the dates and amount of payments you can call up the hospital and request something called an itemized statement. In other words what every one else would call a bill. The itemized statement lists all the charges and then lists payments made by date and shows the remaining balance. The kicker on this statement is there is no payment address provided. Because as I was told this isn't a bill so why would you be sending in a payment. Yes indeed why would you.

Like I said on Saturday, I put a call into the service that was mentioned in the letter. I left a message. I have yet to hear back from them. Tomorrow I'm going to call and make arrangements with them on paying the rest of the bill. I have to say I'm looking forward to the conversation because someone is going to get an earful from me.

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