Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wasteful Wednesday- AAAAAAHHHH! My credit report

Talli goes to the hospital every 4 weeks for IVIG. IVIG is extremely expensive, around $3,500 for one dose for a 71lb child. That price is not for the room, other medications she takes, nor labs. She has been getting it since 2005 and the number of hospitalizations for illness has significantly dropped.

Over a year ago, the hospital she goes to outsourced their billing. Now, at least once a month we get a statement saying we owe between $4,000 and $24,000. We call them and they usually say that they do not have her Medicaid information. This is pretty annoying because I verify when she registers each month that they have the information and they do.

Well, last month, we got another statement. This one indicated that we need to pay approximately $24,000. Rawlo called them with the Medicaid information on July 26th. While we were on vacation July 30-August 14 I kept getting calls from an 800 number, but it would hang up prior leaving a message. While we were sitting in the car August 4th, I called the number, and it was the hospital billing department. Remember, this is the outsourced company. I spent about 15 minutes on the phone with Allysa. She said we needed to pay the entire amount or be sent to collections. She said that the immunologist’s office had an internal form called “IVIG” that needed to be filled out each month in order for the hospital to bill the insurance company. She said she would put the account on hold for 14 days and then it would be sent to collections.

I mentioned this to Rawlo and he freaked out a little bit about our credit rating and the problem going to collections causes. He didn’t realize that “being sent to collections” threat is told to me about every other month from billing departments (If you have Medicaid and they are a Medicaid provider they cannot bill you nor send you to collections.) So I called again and got Warren. Warren indicated that Talli had 9 different billing accounts and that the Medicaid information was not listed on all of them, he said he would take care of it.

The day after we got home, I stopped into the doctor’s office and verified that they did not need a form filled out. Ya, there is no form.

After we were home, we got 2 letters from the hospital indicating that we needed to pay $4,000+ and $12,000+. There was no person listed on the letter, date of service, nor services received on the letter. It was dated August 18th. I also received a letter from Blue Cross to send them information on our other health insurance policy, so that they can coordinate benefits. This is usually sent out when a provider sends in billing information and indicates that the patient has another insurance plan. This is needed when a person has two insurance plans, typically when both parents have policies that cover their children, so the insurance companies can decide who pays for what. Care coordination is not needed when the second insurance is Medicaid. Medicaid is a payer of last resort, meaning they pay out benefits after insurance and any other funds are applied to the bill. As a result of this, insurance companies do not consider Medicaid another insurance policy.

I called and spoke to Warren again. He indicated that Talli’s account was under review, so no letters should have been sent out to us. He also said that the $4,000+ bill was for me, but the balance was only $356.26. I told him that I had sent in a payment for $356.26. He checked and they had received my check, but applied it to Talli’s account. I told him to correct that part and he said he would. He said that the rest of the balance was waiting on me filling out the Care Coordination form. I got the dates of service for the $12,000+ bill and he gave me a list. I looked through our EOBs and our insurance had paid on all but 1 of the dates of service. I spent 45 minutes on the phone with Warren.

Then I called Blue Cross and straightened things out about the care coordination. The rep also said that they would not be paying for IVIG until Talli went off of it for 12 months and it was reviewed again. That is not going to happen. She indicated she would send a letter to the hospital listing the payments they had sent and copies of the checks that the hospital had electronically deposited. I spent 35 minutes on the phone with her.

I was pretty miffed after all of these calls because it was a pain. I was planning on running and missed my run because I was on the phone.

So….. I called the hospital patient advocate and gave her a 5 minute rendition of what was going on. She said that she was hearing this a lot since the billing was outsourced and would talk to the head of the department. The next morning, I got a call from the Billing Department head, she said that the insurance was waiting on medical information from Talli’s doctor before they would pay out on the IVIG. I told her that it was the first I was hearing about that and that I had spoken with Blue Cross the day before and they indicated they were not going to pay until Talli took a break from IVIG. She said she would take care of the calls and bills.

It has been a week now and no one has called or sent me any nasty grams in the mail. I spent at least 2 hours on the phone trying to straighten this all out and more time shifting through EOBs. Like most other metabolic mamas we have inches of paper that makes up the EOB stack for this calendar year and finding anything is a pain. I did discover that the hospital billed Blue Cross twice for the same hospital stay in April and Blue Cross paid them twice, differing amounts each time. So of course the irony that is my life, the hospital sends me a bill when they have already been paid twice.

When I have a spare minute I will let Blue Cross know.

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