July 04, 2012

Hey, What's Two Grand Among Friends?

I don’t know much about Obamacare. But I remember reading reports, back when the bill was first introduced, that no one had actually read it in its entirety, so I guess I’m not alone. Here is what I do know. I know that when we first found out about Anne Marie, we spent lots of time talking to different doctors and hospitals trying to find the best place for her care. I know that we took out a loan to pay for her treatment and it was worth every penny. We would do it again in a heartbeat. No question. And I know that if there had been laws and regulations that would have prevented us from finding the best care for her, I would have been furious. Furious! (Dr. Coburn says he has had numerous patients through the years who he believes would have died sooner had Obamacare been the law of the land.) I also know that Lincoln thinks he might want to be a doctor, and the recent ruling on Obamacare makes me leery about his future. But I’ll leave that up to God and his plans for Lincoln.

All that to say, I don't know much about health care policy and all the details of what the recent Supreme Court ruling means. But here is just a little of  my experience with the financial end of health care.  

About a week after Oliver was born, I got our hospital bill in the mail. I knew it was coming, but I also knew that after two cataract surgeries for my gray-haired husband that we had met our HSA's family deductible, so our portion of the bill would be small. When the bill came, it just gave the total amount billed and by then I knew that our insurance would pay this in full. But I was curious because I was used to seeing more of an itemized bill, so I called the hospital and asked if they could send one. They were extremely nice and helpful and said they would stick one in the mail.

When the bill arrived, I went over it carefully and it didn't take long for me to realize that there were some things on the bill that were a mistake. One was an epidural. I had been billed for one, but hadn't had one. I don't think that's something I would have forgotten. There were several other things I had been mistakenly billed for as well, so I called the billing office and asked them about it. Again, when I called they were very nice and helpful and said they would look into it. Several weeks later I received an adjusted bill that was almost correct. The only mistake was that I had been billed for $427.77 for Fentanyl-Bupivacaine. I wasn't sure what this was, so I Googled it and I was sure I hadn't had it. Again, I think I would have remembered that.

So I called the hospital once again to speak to the billing office. Again, they were nice, yet skeptical about what I was saying. But they said they would look into it. One thing they did tell me during this conversation was that my insurance had already paid the bill in full and if I disputed it then I might have to end up paying some of it. I'm not sure what my exact reply was but it was something like, "I'm not sure about any of that. All I know is that I was billed for something that I didn't receive so either way it's a mistake." In the end it was all corrected but I had been over-billed $2,024.09. That's a lot. Whether it's me or my insurance company who pays for it, that's a lot. I can only imagine how often that happens. (I think our friend Keith Smith knows better than anyone.) It doesn't take long for that to add up to millions of dollars.  

The next time you get a hospital bill in the mail, check over it to make sure it's correct. You never know what they might have tacked on.

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