Another Side of the Healthcare Issue

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.

Customer Service Sucks!

It’s truly amazing how bad customer service has gotten. I just can’t understand how companies can continue to ignore the customer simply because they are too cheap to properly train their call center agents. Or maybe it’s because too many people today don’t understand basic human decency and courtesy.

Case in point – Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group, LLC sent my mother a letter indicating that a bill for $37.15 that was supposed to be paid to Bethesda Emergency Associates for services rendered for my father on May 9, 2007 had not been paid. Turns out that the attentive people at Manor Care Bethesda nursing home failed to provide proper insurance information or address to Bethesda Emergency Associates. So the bills went to the nursing home. Did the nursing home bother to notify me or my mother? Nope. The bills just went unpaid until we received the letter from this ‘recovery group’ – whatever the hell that means. So, I called the ‘recovery group’ and tried to find out what was going on.

The first customer service issue (ignoring all of the crap that led up to this mess) was the person at Healthcare Revenue Group who would not let me finish talking before interrupting and telling me what to do. I’m amazed that they could be employing mind readers who don’t need to hear my question! So I explained what I knew and was told that the bill was mailed to the wrong address until it came to them. They found the right address. The whole tone of this conversation made it sound like my fault! I then pointed out that my father had Medicaid coverage so he shouldn’t even have been billed. The HRRG rep asked to speak to my father. I explained that he recently passed away. You would think any civil human being would at least say a simple “Oh, I’m sorry.” Nope. Don’t forget that this is the “I want my profit from healthcare” big corporation.

Anyhow, I then said that I hoped my mother’s credit rating would not be affected since this was a mistake by the healthcare provider. The only response I needed was a simple, “No, sir. There won’t be any problem for the credit report.” Nope, again. The “caring” HRRG rep said, “Did I say there would be anything placed on the credit report.” I’m sorry to say this, but I really wish my response had been “FUCK YOU.” I am the victim of incompetent health care providers. How dare you cop an attitude with me.

If you ever get stuck with this attitude, I encourage you to call these idiots on it. Aside from the sheer greed of pharmaceutical companies, HMOs and other healthcare big business, this messed up billing system with poor customer service and zero accountability is the biggest issue facing anyone trying to simply care for their health.

It’s time to make some noise about this. I’d love to hear your horror stories. Maybe someone will do something about this if we embarass these assholes enough.