"Balance billing" - the foul practices involved

Winter 2011 CSANews Issue 81  |   Posted date : Dec 02, 2011.Back to list

Bird talk - Le Jaseur
Dear Bird Talk,

Your J. Ross Quigley expounded in the fall issue of your CSANews that “our strategy to confront aggressive billing departments, combined with Medipac’s reputation for paying our claims, has proven very successful.”

We were involved in a rather unfortunate car accident on December 31, 2010 at KeyWest, FL, but we can confirm that we were “taken care of immediately and professionally” as one of your Bird Talk readers reported. One of your agents (or some guardian angel) may have even monitored my progress while I was confined to the ICU of a Winnipeg hospital, for which I am exceedingly grateful.

But it is some what irritating that we received as late as the end of September an endless stream of invoices, statements, reminders and such from the service providers involved, among them intimidating letters from collection agencies threatening to ruin our credit ratings if outstanding bills are not paid with out delay. Does this still square with the reputation you believe to have acquired for paying your bills in a timely manner??

Your comments will be appreciated.

Hardy May
Manitoba

Response:
Ed: Yes, even with all of those bills and statements and threats you received, it does square with our reputation. What you encountered is the foul practice of “balance billing.” As you are probably aware, Medipac has contract price arrangements with many hospitals. When we get a bill for $100,000, we are often able to settle it for, say, $70,000. Some unscrupulous care providers will send you, the patient, a “balance bill” for the diference of $30,000, hoping that you will pay it; they can be very aggressive, as you have found out. The real problem in the U.S. is that Medicare and Medicaid do not pay the full value of the care provided through the government programs, and hospitals are forced to seek their proft elsewhere. You, the foreign patient, and Medipac are the “elsewhere.” Do NOT pay these bills; simply send them all to us and we will deal with them.

Can we stop them? Eventually - yes! As an aside, you will notice that consecutive bills from the same provider are for different amounts; I believe that they actually hope that you might pay it twice!

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