Healthcare Billing via Rectal Extraction - Part 1

Posted On: Monday - May 6th 2019 11:37AM MST
In Topics: 
  Healthcare Stupidity  Big-Biz Stupidity  Scams

Here is the long-awaited post (Enjoyed your weekend? Good. Prepare to be pissed.) alluded to in the previous post last Thursday that had raised my blood pressure bigly.

Peak Stupidity has not had a post about HealthCare Stupidity in quite some time, but this one just cropped up. It's the 2nd time I've been through this simply outrageous form of stupidity, and unfortunately probably won't be the last. Lest the more Socialist-inclined reader start off right away in retort to this post with "See?! It's that Capitalism! These people don't care about you. The GOVERNMENT needs to run Healthcare, as they will do everything right and fairly, like in, uhh, with Affirmative Action, Taxes, all that shit ... Oh, but we like to use the term "Single Payer" as not to raise peoples' blood pressure and all as we eeeaase into the wonderful new system", let me pre-emtively let you know how full of shit this idea is.

In America, we have nothing resembling Capitalism and free markets in the Healthcare "Industry". Yes, we did 60 years ago, and yes, China is a whole lot closer than we are right now (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and a Postscript of Peak Stupidity's award-winning [Here's your plaque, bitch! - Ed.] series on healthcare in China.) What we have here is government control, via Medicare, Medicaid, Øb☭macare, and other government regulation, that has created a huge bureaucracy with an arcane, unfathomable, and asinine system of how medical care is charged and billed. Let me put it this way: A doctor friend has 3 offices with 50 +/- a couple of employees and 11, yes ELEVEN of them are working in billing. That's 20% of the workforce in this non-medically-servicing portion of the business just to wade through the complete bullshit and get the doctors, nurses, and techs paid, and to keep the business running.

OK, now what happened the other day to piss me off enough to make me not fit for blogging (and that takes a lot!) was the receipt of a 2nd letter of 2 so far discussing a large amount of money - something like $12,000 dollars, but exact to the penny - due for a procedure that I'd already paid for. No, I did not need to use insurance, and (Thank the Lord) this was not for a problem, but just a routine every-few-year thing that cost money. I discussed it with the nice billing lady, and the fee was in the right ballpark for what I had to get done. Things had to drag on for a few hours, just the way it worked, there were 4 people (none doctors, but professionals none-the-less) involved, so the ~ $1,500 fee was reasonable. I signed on the line, wrote a check, ipso facto, there's your money, I'm done, see ya!

That was all fine until a few weeks later when I got the 1-order-of-magnitude larger bill, with no specific itemization, just "hey, I pulled this number out of my ass, now, FUCK YOU, PAY ME!" I made the 2nd call, based on a 2nd letter, to this billing company on Friday, in which I invoked the L-word. No, it's neither a four-letter word nor a racial slur. It's much worse than that - I used the word "LAWYER". Things kind of changed after that with my and the nice customer service representative's relationship.

OK, I have not gotten through the whole story in a reasonable amount of time here. This is pretty interesting stuff, though, because now I am under the impression that this may have been a true scam, that is, not a scam like all government/crony-capitalist/Big-Biz con-jobs, but an actual unapproved scam that could be both clever and lucrative. I will expound on that possibility, along with filling in the rest of this story, in Part 2.

This is the modus operandi (they like to use Latin still in the medical field, just to screw with people) of Current-Year billing departments. First, there's the rectal extraction of a large random number, denominated in US dollars. Then, there's the computer-generated* letter with no itemization, from the nice customer service representative named Pauli:

"Don't know how you could have had a hysterectomy without ever having a uterus to begin with? Fuck you, pay me! Wondering what the charges are for, since you already paid in full for the ingrown toenail? Fuck you, pay me! You say you've never heard of a Dr. Gupta? Fuck you, pay me veddy much!"

* More on this in Part 2 - "The Peak Stupidity Ultimatum".

Tuesday - May 7th 2019 6:40PM MST
PS: It's a done deal now, I think, Dtbb, but I'll try to remember that.
Tuesday - May 7th 2019 5:04PM MST
PS:Pay by check and put "payment in full" in the memo.
Monday - May 6th 2019 6:39PM MST
PS: I'll put the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say, up tomorrow. Part of the excuse was "the system".
Monday - May 6th 2019 6:01PM MST
PS: Same thing happened to my wife. She and doc agreed on a fee upfront, my wife paid in cash, and several months later a billing company out of state sent her a bill. The matter proceeded from there as you describe--a second bill and threat of a lawyer--before the matter was settled. Maybe the payment of cash upfront throws the system out of whack, although my wife, like you, felt that it was a scam.
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