Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Screwed again

Yesterday, I received a bill from a bill collector. Me. A bill. From a bill collector. wtf?

First of all, I pay my bills. I open my mail and pay bills immediately. I'm aware of what is on my credit cards at all times and I carry a zero balance on all of them.  So a collection agency sending me a bill is quite the disgusting surprise last night. What is most disturbing is that I don't even know what the bill is for. I have never received a bill in that amount for whom they are claiming it for.

Let's backtrack two years ago. I go to the doctor on a day scheduled months in advance. It just so happens to be the exact day M starts his new job. I pay no attention to this, as it is the only day I go to the doctor all year. A month later, we decide to drop our existing benefits and have M cover both of us. A smart move because his new employer offers excellent services and price. Or so we thought.

I get a bill stating my previous benefits were dropped at midnight the day before my office visit. What? I was surely covered by my benefits that day. Especially because we didn't even decide to change over a month later. Nope. M's employer covered us the day he started – which I hear is quite extraordinary. Needless to say, my former benefits will no longer pay for the office visit because I no longer was covered under them. My luck.

I get luckier and luckier as M's new coverage doesn't include my doctor. Yeah for me as I have to pay 100% of the visit. I can't tell you how frustrating this is. Especially because I had coverage that I paid for. I end up receiving the bills throughout the next months, and all I can do is pay for them. Another way we were screwed by M's former employer. (In my mind, he was laid off, so it is their fault – as this would not have happened on our own)

I paid more than $220 for a regular office visit that should have been a co-payment only. And don't forget that I had coverage. Of course, I had to pay the co-payment, too.

Let's fast forward to yesterday. The bill from the collection agency is a strange amount for the hospital. I know it is for lab work that I had bills stating a balance of $0. I spent most of my evening going through the filing cabinets searching for this bill. I can not find a bill I ever received with this number. But I do find all the statements from that day and even my bank's statements with the cashed checks.


I call the hospital asking about the bill. They claim they sent me this bill FIVE times – which they have not. I have no records of this. Remind  you, I am aware I was there that day, so something just doesn't add up. They state it is for lab work, but I have my bill copy with me stating it is $0. So instead of me having a $0 fee, it is now $75.87. I don't mind paying for my services if they are legit. I do mind that two years later I receive that bill from a collection agency, though. So I pay the $ today. Two years later for a procedure I had coverage for. The same coverage I had to pay for as well as M. But I received no coverage. How can this happen?

I'm one of those lucky people that goes to the doctor annually once. I also get my eye exam every two years. I had to pay 100% out of pocket for that one too. The transition from coverage really screwed me two years ago. But I'm one of the good guys. I pay my price tag for the benefits out of pocket. I go to the doctor twice and I have to pay 100%.

Because M switched coverage for us, I have to choose a new doctor last year. I go to the doctor ONE time last year and guess what? Yup, 100% out of pocket again. This doctor is a Tier II and I was there for Tier I. See the pattern?

I just can't win. And the thing is, I have health insurance. Really good health insurance under M. I can only imagine how people struggle without it.

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