Hospitals, doctors and billing

I don’t understand the mindset of businesses nowadays.  In the past, billing was one of the most important aspects of business.  Payments would come in, accounts were updated, statements sent out, etc.  The timeliness of that process was key to keeping things running smoothly.  Apparently for some, that is no longer important (and by some, I mean many).  Take the following for examples:

We received a bill from the ER doctor from the visit in November.  Insurance had paid their portion, discounts had been applied, and the remaining balance was our responsibility.  I went online to their website the day I received the bill and paid it in full with a credit card so it would post immediately.  Six weeks later we receive another statement saying they were waiting for us to pay the bill.  I go online–our account no longer shows on their website.  I check the credit card statement–the payment is listed, and I already paid the credit card balance in full.  We call their billing department, and they verify that yes, we had made the payment and we should not have gotten another statement.

Another bill arrives from some testing done in November.  Insurance has paid, etc, etc.  They do not have a website, so I send a check via snail mail to them paying the balance in full.  Five weeks later we receive another statement requesting payment.  I pull up my banking statement and the check cleared the bank two days after I mailed it.  I call them, they verify we paid, there is no outstanding balance and we should not have gotten a bill from them.  (These are two separate billing entities, not the same company).

A bill arrives from one of the cardiologists in the hospital.  It has the total amount, a courtesy discount since we didn’t have insurance, and the remaining balance to be paid.  WTF?  We call, and the billing department can’t understand why we received such a statement since our account clearly shows we have insurance, and an insurance claim had been submitted and is being processed.  They said to disregard that statement and we should receive an updated one shortly.

The real kicker?  We received the hospital bill that’s just shy of $94,000 before insurance.  That doesn’t include doctors fees, but covers room, procedures, lab tests, medications, etc.  Insurance paid, discounts applied, and we have our final amount.  I go online to pay.  They ask for the account number, DOB, etc.  The online site cannot find the account.  ARGHHH!!!  I’m HOLDING the bill in my hand, you’d think the information would have already been entered and checked for accuracy, right?  After re-entering everything three different times, I pull out the checkbook, write a check and send it snail mail.  They’ll get it when they get it.

What is wrong with this picture?  Worst case scenario would be deceptive billing practices, although the most likely culprit would be laziness and not giving a damn.  I understand mistakes happen, but one after another and all from different entities?

And people wonder why businesses fail…

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