Risk Of Breast Cancer Is Not The Worst Thing In This Story

, , , , , | Healthy | May 26, 2019

I’m a young woman who doesn’t have to go in for yearly mammograms, but when doing a check one month, I notice a possible lump. Women are encouraged to visit their doctor immediately when this happens, as breast cancer can be very aggressive. I go in to my regular doctor office, but the PA I normally see is on maternity leave, so a different one is scheduled for my visit.

The new physician is nice, but it all goes downhill once she refers me for additional testing. Her assistant schedules the referral without a checking date or time with me and doesn’t give me all the appointment info. My mammogram appointment starts out rocky as a result, but thankfully they don’t find any cancer so I’m pronounced healthy and sent on my way.

Fast forward a couple weeks, and I get an outrageous bill for the facility I was referred to. I reach out to the hospital billing and then my doctor’s office. The hospital billing team is very nice but the doctor’s office doesn’t care that they botched my referral by pushing me over to one of their connected facilities. I talk to them about once a week for a month and a half, and their office manager can’t remember to return my calls. Finally, after leaving a message for the office manager’s boss, hospital billing gets involved.

The office manager has requested that they just comp my bill because of all the issues –more than what I mentioned above — I’ve had when dealing with them. She says it should be cleared up, so I end that call relieved. Hospital billing steps in, and suddenly I’m being told that my bill is not being comped. I’m normally non-confrontational, but the woman I’m speaking to is so rude and doesn’t seem to care that her organization’s facilities have repeatedly messed up just about every interaction I’ve had related to this initial visit, or that I’ve been promised the bill will be written off already. We argue for several minutes until she agrees to take another day to look into this more and decide. It’s really just a stall on her part, as reneging on writing off the remaining bill will be going back on what her colleague promised.  

She calls me the next day and begrudgingly agrees that they’ll comp my bill. I also end up speaking to the office manager again, who reminds me that they’ll expect me to pay my bills in the future.

For the record, I always pay my bills and had given them an initial payment which I thought was kind of a co-pay. I learned better as a result of this and will not make that mistake again.

We all think everything is resolved until a couple months later, when I get some cryptic call from some woman that I can barely understand. She’s asking for me to identify myself so she can discuss my account with me. I tell her that I don’t know who she is and I’m not comfortable with sharing personal info. She says that’s fine but I should call them back when I’m ready. Somewhere during the conversation, she says something that makes me realize this is a collections call.

Of course, she won’t tell me anything unless I share my info with her, but the only billing snafu of late was the hospital one. So, I call them and end up finding out that when they bill, the facility sends one bill but the radiologist sends a separate bill. And somehow, I should know that these bills are sent separately.

By now, I’m freaked because a) I thought this was resolved a few months ago, and b) I’m planning to buy a house and don’t want a collections account to show up on my credit report.

I make a few calls that result in me leaving a message with the rude hospital billing lady I spoke to a few months before. She leaves me a message later letting me know that she’s spoken to the second billing team and it should be taken care of. Our insurance person at work also tells me to call back the collections agency and let them know I’m working things out with the hospital. I do and they freeze the collections account for me.

I’ve not heard anything from either billing group, so it all seems to be resolved now. And I’ve switched to a different doctor’s office, one not connected to the hospital. Everyone is really nice and so far I’ve had no issues.

Moral of the story: ask lots of questions when your doctor refers you anywhere. And don’t go unless your insurance has signed off on that being the best in-network facility and estimated how much it will cost.

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