A midweek cranky!

It’s been a miserable week. I’ve been wrestling with medical bills from months ago. I don’t remember the visits. The memories are stored in a vault off site of my brain. It required work. I found my documentation and found something interesting.

I’m on Medicare with a supplemental plan to cover all the things that Medicare doesn’t. Between Medicare (which is not free) and my sup, I pay more than I paid with my employer plan while working. I’m still grateful for those crumbs (which I paid into for 45 years).

Medicare has been squeezing docs and hospitals, lowering payments. This year I’ve seen creative billing like charging for two visits at the same time when there was only one. I was also asked to prepay my deductible when reporting for an appointment only to be billed again for a deductible. The net result had I not caught it, would have been an over payment of $75.

There is a number to call for “questions.” In one case the phone menu directed you to a non-existing mail box. When you were able to leave a message, there would be no callback. Ever.

I waited ten days for a call back. By repeatedly calling, I finally got a hold of the “person” who apologized and said she was busy. Ten days of “too busy” to spend less than five minutes with me clearing up the double charge. Not buying it Kayla.

I am a healthy and aware person. I wonder what the mentally impaired people do. What about the older people who get overwhelmed? Do they automatically pay anything they are charged? Something smells here.

This week I did something I’ve never done before. I posted a negative review on Yelp for one of the doc offices. I’ve had repeated billing issues with them over the past several years and they got ripped. It may not accomplish anything but I sure feel better. By the way there were other negative reviews which were always answered by a comment from the “owner” that said “we are sorry you were not happy.” That’s it. Not even a free mocha latte!

The net result is you won’t get me to a doctor unless I am dying and even then I may go directly to the undertaker. Both places suck the blood out of you. At least I won’t have to worry about paying at the second one. It will be someone else’s problem.

For those of you still working, get any elective surgery you need prior to going on Medicare. It’s just not pretty. OK, rant over.

I apologize for my negativity. I must go find my inner peace. Or maybe a Frappuccino.

113 thoughts on “A midweek cranky!

  1. I don’t have medicare yet – December – but H does. I’ve noticed an increase in his costs in the last year. Thank goodness he pretty healthy. So You are not the only one. I do try to scrutinize those bills also. Dealing with the billing for him is hard because they don’t want to talk to me – always needing his approval. If they only understood they may never get paid unless they talk to me because I’m the one taking care of the finances these days…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I’ll be on Medicare in a few years too – you paint a picture of something I won’t like very much. My mom used to compare invoices versus what appeared on her statements – unbelievable what oddball charges appeared on there. The day she passed away she was not in the hospital even 12 hours from arrival in the E.R. to her passing and it was about $12,000.00.

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    • There are Medicare plans that are all in one meaning that there is only one payer instead of Medicare and a supplemental plan. They may be easier to manage. You have to be vigilant. Even before I was on Medicare, my PC doc at the time billed me for a visit that wasn’t. I hadn’t been there in months when it came. Unfortunately my insurance had already paid. I did notify both the doc office and the insurance company. It may have been a simple transposition of account numbers but you have to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I don’t like to think anyone is bilking their patients. We have had a lot of rather sensationistic cases here in Michigan with that happening … some for Medicare fraud, and one was a doctor my mom had seen at one time. He was a GP who specialized in gerontology and got greedy and is now in jail. My friend’s late mother also saw him and he was not even seeing patients face-to-face, but sat in a room and did the consult by intercom … in the same building! And even more bizarre, was that he had a pneumatic tube like they use at a drive-in bank, where he sent the prescription for the patient. She told her daughter about it but liked Dr. Linares so stayed with him. Shortly after her mom died (sudden stroke), I saw he was in jail … Carol (my cat friend I’ve mentioned) lives in NY and had mentioned to me her mother treating with him and I mentioned my mom did as well. We were shocked. My mom stopped seeing him when he moved about 20 miles away but Carol’s mom continued to see him. https://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/2016/07/pill_mill_doctor_gets_4_years.html

        We also had the doctor who told patients they had cancer and treated them with chemo, radiation and they were not even sick. Dr. Fatah … people died as a result of his greediness. That made the national news and he is also in jail.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been hearing a lot of stories like yours lately – which worries me. Are people generally getting less ethical or less competent? At least in your case, your frustration can be cured with a Frappuccino. Thank you, Starbucks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Less competent for sure. With computer programs to do most of this work I can’t figure out why there are so many mistakes. If my eye doc gets audited, I think there will be problems.

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  4. I am so sorry you are having this trouble! It is difficult to resolve for sure, and such a headache! There’s got to be someplace they can overcharge you! But you are right – what happens to people who aren’t able to research and contest incorrect bills?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s for the warning. While I’m looking forward to being retired, I dread having to deal with new health insurance (aka Medicare). My husband has Part A but is still on my HMO since I’m still working. Once I leave my job, he’ll add on our HMO’s supplemental plan. He also gets care at the local VA clinic so he’s pretty well covered. It’s a crime that they (Congress and the insurance companies) make these policies for older people so confusing. As we get older we need more clarity, not more confusion. My mom is 95 and in excellent health which she claims is because she does not go to the doctor. She has her annual checkup but pretty much avoids the doc unless she has a real medical need like having a basal cell removed or laser surgery for cataracts. Anything else she’d argue that sleep and Tylenol will do the trick. I don’t have all of her good genes (I did have cancer many years ago), but I hope I have most of them 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never go for colds, flu, minor aches or pains. I have a policy of waiting somewhere between 1 and 3 months to see if something go away on it’s own and it usually does. I’ll go if I get a reaction from multiple bee stings or feel there may be something serious going on. Even then I wait a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • While I still have employer-paid health insurance, I go to the doc more than I would otherwise. Of course, I’m still working so some of that is just to get me back to work faster ;( Ironically (or not) some of my ailments are due to the job (being around sick people, sitting at a desk staring at computer monitors all day, etc.).
        Interestingly, in the two years that my husband has been retired, his overall health has improved. In fact, I don’t think he’s even had a cold while I’ve had at least a couple of bad colds. One was so bad I went to the doctor twice because I couldn’t stop coughing. Hmmm, I need to rethink my retirement date 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I have held off commenting because I wanted to talk to ShortsSandalsNoShorts about this post. I had his undivided attention while I drove him to the eye doc this morning for another minor procedure on the eye that he had a macular hole. Our supplemental insurance is Tricare for Life (military medical insurance for retired military) and we must be really lucky because we just aren’t having a lot of mistakes… not any really. And between Medicare and Tricare after the insurance has all been processed we don’t owe the docs anything except for our annual deductible. Medicare and Tricare for Life go hand in hand… government. And yeah, I guess that could be good or bad. I hate hearing that you are having trouble, Kate. Shouldn’t it be freaking illegal for the doc’s billing dept to charge you over what medicare says you owe? I think I must be missing something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Theoretically speaking, our insurances should and often do work the same way. More of my problems come with “creative bookkeeping” at the docs billing department. Medicare sends an easy to understand listing of the charges, what’s covered, what isn’t and what you owe. It may be less based on supplemental insurance. It’s when nothing matches that drives me wild. I went through this last year and got the charges reversed but it’s work. Your deal sounds sweet! And thank SSNS for his service!

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  7. Good grief, what stress doctors’ billing confounds me sometimes. So sorry for your troubles. Our dentist recently unaligned himself with our insurance company, and suddenly switching himself to non-preferred-provider status. We have to pay him in full now and get reimbursed later by our insurance company. I don’t mind him doing that, at least in theory, because we can just switch dental coverage during the next open season to a plan that includes him. But it was most unhelpful for him make this switch mid-year when I can’t do anything about it.

    Good on you for writing that Yelp review. I hope they feel the sting from it. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • I lost a beloved dentist several decades ago. He decided not to file insurance claims. You had to pay, then get reimbursed. The problem was that you never knew if what he charged you was completely reimbursable. I ended up changing dentists. I am going to review my plans during the open enrollment period. We are paying a lot for very little. We are healthy and typically have 1 doc visit that isn’t an annual check up. Stay healthy!

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  8. I understand your rant. And it’s nice of you to rant on-line with us so we can realize we’re not the only ones who have had these “problems.” First, the whole thing of calling social security and medicare “entitlement programs,” when in actuality, we’ve paid into them for years and years… and years. I HATE that word entitlement about programs that WE HAVE PAID INTO. Inhale. Exhale. My guy and I check every piece of mail/billing that comes from our doctors’ offices and Medicare. Rarely do they match, and yes, we’ve been double billed. Not by the doctor’s office though. We have a fabulous medical center (we use different doctors but the same office) and the office staff returns phone calls and moans with us and helps us find the answer. My doctor sits down with me and TALKS and LISTENS for more than half an hour Doctors like these do exist. They actually care. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. OMG, I cannot stand dealing with any insurance company, and I know medicare is even a worse nightmare. It does feel good to right a review on Yelp. I did it once about a doctor, too. Hope everything is straightened out now.

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  10. I’m so sorry to hear that. My experience has been better than both my employer-provided and when I had to buy it outside of an employer. And the cost is about 10% what it used to be. I have United for everything Medicare doesn’t cover. Maybe they’re better?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have United too but this rant isn’t about the insurance company. It’s about the incompetent staff at the doctor’s billing office. I have a Medicare statement that says exactly what I owe which is $130 less than the bill I received.

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  11. It’s a racket all over the U.S.! Husband has “really good” private insurance and yet I still have to do battle over bills I’ve paid and extra charges. If you get seriously injured or have a baby, it becomes a full-time job.

    One of my friends is a Frenchwoman. When she went back to France, a crown broke and her French dentist was so apologetic over the cost of repairing it since she no longer had French medical. It was $75.

    My crown was hundreds of dollars. WITH INSURANCE.

    Don’t get me started on my friends in Taiwan who pay under $100 for an ER visit and hospitalization.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hit a nerve with everyone. A crown in my area is well over $1K. Insurance doesn’t cover it, you just get a slight discount. Very slight. I’d be kissing that French doc. My old dentist was a dream. I had a veneer come off on a weekend. It was a front touch (I looked like a homeless person) and he met me in his office to glue it on. Less than 10 minutes, no charge. It happened again after he retired with my new doc. I had a regular weekday appointment. Less than 10 minutes = $100. The other thing about medicare is that you are no longer eligible for “special deals” from drug manufacturers. What? For private insurance only. Stinks.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Shaking fist and ranting along with you.
    Thanks for saying it: Medicare ain’t free – it’s an expensive nightmare. All you younger /politicians who think it’s a free ride and retired/seniors/.old people should be happy and grateful with it – (some of) you know it’s all a lie and political gambit. We have never paid this much for health insurance and medical care in our entire lives and gotten so little for it. Not to mention the stress of dealing with people and documentation you must keep these days.
    Oh, yeah, and I like how Medicare’s payment to one of our long term docs was exactly $5.00 for a 30 min derm visit – and we had to fight like crazy to get the biopsy covered “It was benign so not necessary”…UH except if not biopsied we wouldn’t have known for sure as there is previous incident history/genetics, right? We pay lots of money to be covered!). We almost feel like we should apologize when we make appointments knowing the reimbursement potential.
    It’s not free and it seems they are trying to kill us off and want expand the wretched system to everyone and anyone who shows up?
    Take care and keep that immune system up.
    (And you can insert fist shaking at sky here again HaHa)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank goodness you were on the ball! I, too, think about how many people accept charges without question at a doctor’s office. Of course, some people accept a diagnosis without question as well. As long as health care providers keep lowering ‘accepted rates’ for procedures so that they can make money, medical providers must find ways that they can bill more for services to make up for that loss. As with all things, it comes out of the pocket of the people!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does. One doctor’s office said that Medicare just covers the paperwork for an annual checkup (it’s free on the Medicare website) so if the doc checks your blood pressure or anything else at the same time, that’s another office visit charge. This is the first year for that! It’s annoying as I do the annual wellness visit because I’m encouraged to, not because I’m sick.

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  14. Oh what a mess! Good for you in speaking up, yes you deserve a Frap, in fact 2 of them!!
    We had a lot of trouble with our hospital double billing and then sending late charges because of not paying the full bill which was wrong!
    Yes dealing with medical bills and insurance companies can drive you crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. We were overseas too long to qualify for Medicare, so I just make do with the insurance that goes along with my husband’s pension. The list of things they pay for is shorter than the list of things they don’t pay for. In some ways I’m a patient person. But when it comes to figuring out how the insurance company has overcharged or double charged me, my patience goes out the window.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! I didn’t realize that working overseas disqualifies you. This beef is more about doctor’s billing practices than Medicare although I could write a rant about that. I tell all my friends to stay health and then die quickly. No point in running up bills!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. Stay healthy and die quickly if you can.

        I like my chiropractor, and yet, every time I see my bill, I’m suspicious. It doesn’t make sense to me even when they try to explain it.

        Re. Medicare: If you work for an American company or the US military, it counts toward Social Security and Medicare. Eugene worked for an international organization, so they wouldn’t let us pay in.

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  16. I’m sorry to hear this, Kate. I know how frustrating it can be. I have more issues with the people working in my doctor’s offices, especially those who man the front desk. They act as though you’ve walked into their home while they’re eating dinner or something. I do have to say and maybe this will give you hope. Last week, I had two exceptionally excellent customer service experiences with my insurance company. Both went out of their way to explain the bill and they even put me on hold while they contacted my doctor’s office to discuss the error since they felt they could communicate better with all of the insurance coding lingo. Both were extremely professional and understood how complicated it can be for us to understand our statements. I actually stayed on the line and gave high reviews on their surveys.

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    • You are so lucky. I’ve not dealt with insurance people directly, just the billing services both inside the practice and an outside billing group contracted. One thing that Medicare does right is send a quarterly statement that is clear about what can be billed and what can’t. This is what I use as my information when I go to battle.

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  17. I’m glad you posted this because I haven’t heard people complain. That’s probably because the people I see rarely talk about health care. I’ve always looked at my bills carefully, and I’ll be watching even closer now. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I have zero patience for dealing with doctor bills and insurance, so I admire your ability to make your point and pay the right amount on your bills. It’s nuts that this is even an issue, but I hear about it often. There’s no rest for the wicked and apparently by going to the doctor you are one of the wicked.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You are a better woman than I am. I never check it. They tell me how much to pay and I try to pay that much. Sometimes it’s split up over months. The Rabies is just now getting paid off.
    But I never look into the charges. I’m lazy. Or more realistically, I spend so goddamn much time dealing with billing, since it’s my job, that my desire to dig into it again is nil.
    I wonder if I could be saving money by paying attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • $20 is my cut off. Under I don’t bother as it’s not worth my time. Most of my issues have been with bills overcharging over $100. I had an eye doc tell me I could try on contacts with no charge. I spent 15 minutes with his tech and found out that I have too much trouble getting the soft ones in and out. The contacts that I used did not cost anything but the fitting fee was $120. For 15 minutes of nonsense. Won’t happen again.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. No one should have to deal with that kind of bullshit. Something is VERY wrong if there is so much distrust in your healthcare system that people believe these errors are deliberate. Am I just very naive? 😕

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hate to do it as I feel you should address it first with the business. This was the third consecutive incorrect billing. They don’t respond to either phone calls or emails so I have to write letters. That’s a lot of work so they deserved it.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Part of the joke of ‘healthcare’ is the strategy employed by insurance companies making obvious and stupid errors then by making resolution so challenging, the hope clearly being that people will give up and just pay it because it’s less painful or onerous. When my daughter (who was on bed rest and required to have ultrasound tests every two weeks throughout her pregnancy) was billed different amounts for the same procedure on different days, she was told by the insurance person that the time of day mattered. To which she replied, ‘listen lady, I’m hormonal and on bed rest, and I will make your life a living hell if you persist with this highway robbery.’ Surprisingly subsequent billings were charged in the same amount. Go figure.

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