There is one benefit to be in charge of Mom and Dad’s bills: I have a very healthy dose of skepticism when I review medical invoices. I have become horrified at what doctors/HMOs get away with charging when they know “insurance pays”. (Don’t even get me started about the doctors who take care of the elderly and are pillaging the Medicare system)
I have put that anger and outrage to good use and made a discovery: If you get care from the Cleveland Clinic system read on: you may be being charged for things you do not owe.
Yesterday, in the mail I got a letter from a collection agency. Swell. They were telling me I had not paid a series of bills related to doctors visits made by my husband and at the local Cleveland Clinic campus. I have receipts (from the Clinic) proving that I had indeed paid these fees, and did so 6 months ago, so clearly this was an error.
Except for the fact that the Clinic has no record of my payment, nor do they have a record of the charges that the collection agency says I owe. Which is kind of amazing since, well, the collection agency says it is acting on behalf of the Clinic….but I digress.
One hand does not know what the other is doing. Which is fine… it gives me time to get our files together and be ready to hit them with all of my receipts when they can’t find theirs.
But in the meantime, I took a closer look at the things I had paid, and found this:
What are hospital services, you ask? Well when I read the fine print on the invoice, this is what I found:
Yep. A facility charge. So the way this works is if your doctor has an office inside one of the Cleveland Clinic “campuses,” s/he is charged rent by the Main Campus…and that rent is passed on to the patients in the form of “Hospital Services.”
Amazingly, insurance pays…and at a greater percentage than what they do for the actual office visit.
So I went back and looked at my invoices. See the “Hospital Service” on 1/1/11 for $816? Well, funny thing: neither the Clinic nor I can find any actual service that corresponds to that date and charge. And yet they billed my insurance, and insurance paid, and then I paid the remainder, and now the collection wants me to pay again.
I asked a colleague at work if she knew anything about this “hospital services” charge. She didn’t. And then she pulled out her own bill and lo! there, on her statement, on a date that does not correspond to any doctor’s visit…is a charge for over $900 for “hospital services.” And her insurance paid it. All of it.
So while I wait for the Clinic’s billing office to get back to me, I would like to encourage each of you who use the Cleveland Clinic system to check your statements. Make sure the dates of the “hospital services” actually correspond to a visit to the doctor.
And if they don’t…call and make a stink.