Send in your payment - STAT! (more doctor stories)

Posted On: Saturday - September 8th 2018 8:41AM MST
In Topics: 
  Music  Humor  Movies  China  Healthcare Stupidity

Nurse, forceps, some nabs, one Mountain Dew, and,
oh, put Dr. Gupta on the sign-in log, will ya, honey?

In a continuation of some of Peak Stupidity's Doctor humor (see here and here), I'd like to talk billing, if I may. We've got lots more we can say in derision of the healthcare system in America, but it's not anything about the doctors, just the Socialism (to compare to "RED" China, read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of our personal expose of free-market (gasp!!) health-care in the Middle (or mid-lattitude, far-east) Kingdom).

A larger doctor's clinic can easily have 20% of its employees just involved in billing. If it weren't for our government-regulated disaster of a system, these decently-paid people could actually be doing something constructive, not like this:

I had been involved in a minor accident and was not on any sort of health plan. I'd paid most of the bills I'd gotten (not too bad in those days) within a couple of months. That's when I got another bill, this one for radiology work. It wasn't bogus; I'd gotten x-rayed and a radiologist had to look at the pictures. My problem was that this bill had big red bars on either side and told me "THIS IS OUR LAST WARNING! YOU MUST MAKE A FULL PAYMENT BY JUNE 18TH OR BLAH! BLAH! DEADBEAT BASTARD!" (I may not have remembered the exact wording from 2 decades back.). This was the first I'd heard about it, that was my problem with it. I'd gotten a number of other bills, but nothing from this office until this nastygram. Now, keep in mind that this was a while back, to before much of the Artificial Stupidity, hence I was able to get a live person at the hospital who got a live doctor on the phone, who I'm sure thought it was more important than what I was about to say.
"Hey is this Doctor Freeman (I couldn't tell you the real name if I wanted to, due to my memory), this is [the Peak Stupidity lead blogger] (also, not a real name)." "Yeah, I don't know you. What's up?" "Man, I got this $220 bill for radiology from you. I'm gonna pay it, but you're acting like I'm some kind of deadbeat. It's telling me you're about to call a collection agency. It's the only thing I've ever gotten. This is the first I've heard about it." "Oh, see that's not me. I've got a billing office that does this stuff." "OK, well tell them to get their shit together and lighten up on the threats." "Uhh, yeah, I'll try to get them to do better." [Hangs up, thinking "who keeps transferring these calls?"]
I do hope he wasn't in the middle of something, but he's the boss of it all.

It can get worse than that in this screwy non-customer-oriented "industry". With the big confusion on who actually pays for what, the customer does not often bargain, or even care, about the financial aspect of any service rendered. Sometime you do though. You may wonder about the extreme prices on these bills. (Did I explain the part where you're paying for illegal aliens too? That's part of it.) You may get harrased for no good reason like me, and take it maybe too personally. Have you thought, even, about whether you've been billed for services never even rendered at all? Did you remember all the doctors, general and specialist, that you saw at the hospital, or let me say "saw you"?

This is not a real phone call of mine, but it could very well be someday:
“Hey, it says I owe 400 bucks for treatment by a Neurologist named Gupta. I never saw the guy!”
“Sir, calm down. Dr. Gupta saw you on the afternoon of the 9th, while you were still under. That’s why you didn’t see him. He assessed you.”
“Assessed, my Ass! How do I really know this Dr. Gupta did anything?”
“Sir, he assessed your torso. Trust me, the computer says Dr. Gupta was in the area playing 18 holes there. We can come up with a payment plan, if that’s the problem.”
“Oh, yeah, you can send me .jpegs, or send this bill to the collection agency, your choice!”
In China, it's very possible that you could call a prostitute to come to your hospital room after hours to render a service of some sort. Yes, it is a freer country in some ways. I also could believe you may get a bill for one who never took off her skimpy nurse uniform or panties, nor even came in the front door of the hospital. Because cash is king over there, you'd probably not be liable, but can you imagine the bill:

1) Nitro (2 mg) - 120 元
2) Defibrillation (10 min) - 85 元
3) Medical O2 ( 100 litres) - 150 元
4) Shenzen number 4 prostitute (2 min, 18 sec) - 1100 元
5) Number 8, "Spicy Taiwan Beef" (2 portions) - 22 元
(Patient discharged on the 18th with all vital signs trending up.)

This Suicide is Painless scene is from the 1972 movie M*A*S*H*, not the considerably lamer successful 1970's TV show, adapted from the movie. In the show, this song, a nice tune, is just a 1 min or so instrumental, as the intro.

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