It seems to me that when it comes to healthcare issues, many people are focused on the quality of care, cost of care and prescription drugs, and access to healthcare for everyone. Sure these are critical issues, but I think there is another big area that is being ignored even though it should be one of the easier problems to fix. It could also save money and a lot of stress – especially for the elderly.
The issue I’m referring to is the whole coordination of benefits and payment process. For the last few years, I’ve been helping my parents deal with Medicare, Medicaid, HMOs and healthcare providers. While they have been able to get the care they need, virtually every time they see a provider, the billing gets screwed up. Despite filling out long, detailed forms with all of the required insurance information, the healthcare providers always seem to bill incorrectly. We’ve seen bills submitted to the wrong insurance company, submitted to Medicare when they should have gone to the HMO, sent to the wrong address, and sent to collections before a bill was ever sent.
This could be fixed without political turmoil, more taxes, healthcare industry whining lobbying, etc. All it needs is for people to complain loud and long. Plus a few smart tech companies to straighten out the cockeyed billing systems. Imagine if it were easy to record and transmit health insurance information. I’m not talking about personal medical records, just information about who your insurance company is, what type of coverage you have, deductibles, etc. So, when you go to the hospital, they can look up the appropriate information and make sure bills get directed properly.
I can only imagine how much money is wasted on the problems with healthcare billing – not to mention the unending hassle and confusion for consumers. Could you imagine your 80-year-old grandmother trying to sort out a billing mess like this?
What can you do? Write to congress, write a letter to the editor, complain loudly to your healthcare providers, blog – whatever you can do to get people to notice.