20110818

Problem ID: 3809470884352050596
Entered by: Ben Simo
Is there a problem here?  

The Cost of Healthcare

Since moving to Arizona last year, my family seems to be on tour -- visiting emergency rooms at many of the East Valley's hospitals. Insurance has picked up most of the cost, but medical bills are starting to accumulate. I am paying these bills as I can afford it. Today, I chose to pay a bill for one of my son's ER visits. I think this one was for an injury sustained while skateboarding. Anyway, the latest bill that came in the mail says I still owe the hospital $210.62.



I see that there is an option to pay the bill online, so I go to the web site, create an account, and it shows me a list of all bills they've sent for two different accounts -- one for my son, and one for me. I select the first bill in the list, and it looks just like the one that came in the mail.

I click a Pay Now button that is displayed above the online version of the bill.

The following is displayed.



Amount Due: $3963.40.

What!? I thought this was a two-hundred dollar bill. I know hospitals sometimes tack on late fees or finance charges for bills not paid right away. However, this is nearly twenty times the amount on the bill. This amount is even much more than what is due for the combined bills for my son and I.

I call to inquire about the bill. A friendly customer service representative says I only owe $210.62. I explain what I see on the web site. He looks at the account and identifies that $3963.40 was the total amount billed before the insurance company paid, an adjustment was made to match the fees allowed by the hospital's contract with my insurance company, and my previous payments had been applied.

The payment system displays the original full amount charged, not the amount currently due. It not only displays this amount, but pre-fills the amount into the online credit card payment form.

Now the option on the billing phone system menu to talk to someone about getting a refund for an over payment makes sense. ;)

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