Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 21, 2013

Universal health care looking better


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — For the past two years I have had the somewhat dubious distinction of dealing with a variety of doctors and medical institutions and the business end of their operations. I come away convinced that every medical school should have a mandatory class of at least six semester hours of office setup, office management and billing practices

One of my most memorable experiences began when I received a bill for “virtual radiology” from Wisconsin — from a state I have never been in, from a company I had never heard of and for a service I knew nothing about. The next letter I received was from a collection agency in California. After a few letter exchanges they sent a form for me to send to my insurance company for them to be paid. Of course I returned the form and suggested that if a hospital had purchased their service they should be communicating with that hospital for whatever they were trying to get from me. That was the end of our discussion about “virtual radiology.”

One of the more common scams that I have experienced in dealing with hospitals is getting a bill of total charges — total paid, total you owe — without any consideration of insurance contracts, insurance plans or anything else, just a straight unsophisticated money grab. It makes one wonder if billing clerks actually get a cut.

One of my closer home and more recent experiences has been with a local medical practice. I found their medical services to be very good but their record keeping and billing services to be something out of a Charlie Chaplin movie. They have their hand out for a co-pay at the door, before you receive any service. Then if the doctor does any sort of procedure you have another co-pay. So instead of a $20 co-pay or a $50 co-pay you have a $70 co-pay. The real kicker is that when they get caught the billing clerk does not send your money back. She uses her own discretion in spending your money. You would think anyone with even a smidgen of common sense would know better. Either the ego or just plain greed rules the day.

I suspect I will be dealing with more health service agencies over the next few years. It will be interesting to see how sophisticated or unsophisticated the scams will be.

Universal health services, single-payer system looks better each day.

Bill Morefield

Princeton