Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Should I just pay all the bills and be done with it?

Asked by JLeslie (61645points) May 16th, 2012

Hospital bills, doctors bills, all of them are pouring in from my accident. I have an issue with a couple of them, wrote a letter regarding it, and I have made a few calls to my insurance company regarding how my deductible was applied.

Honestly, I hate it. I am so disgusted with our health care system to begin with, and seeing the Explanation of Benefits (EOB’s) come in makes me angry. One EOB reads $30,000 bill, adjustment to $2,500, I owe $600. I’m rounding of course. Fuck that shit! $30,000! Why? Why is that even on the bill? Same thing happens with my regular blood tests I get for my thyroid here at home with my doctor. I can pay $15 out of pocket, or go through my insurance, which lists on my EOB the test was $125, but I pay $9.50. How can anyone stand these games?

Most people just pay their copay and don’t pay attention to the rest (I don’t have a plan with a copay, but that is moot). How the hell is anyone checking on what tests were actually done, what the insurance company is being billed for? Recently, I had my insurance company pay my lab and my doctor for the same tests, they double paid. I wonder how often those things are caught?

Anyway, I know these people count on us being tired and just following along like zombies, opening our wallets, and it sickens me, but I am leaning towards just paying everything and putting all the bills in a fat file in my desk and never looking at them again so I can pretend it never happened.

What do you think? Feel taken advantage of for a short time, but not have to deal with the stress of it all? What’s your vote?

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81 Answers

chyna's avatar

At this point in time, I’m unemployed and on COBRA, so I have nothing better to do with my time than to look over every one of my bills and call my insurance company to make sure they have paid what they are supposed to pay. It actually worked out for me because they were supposed to pay a pap smear in full and I got charged 200.00.
It is all very stressful and I feel bad for older people who can’t keep track of all of this. Your only recourse is to be vigilant and make sure you are getting the benefits you are due.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Don’t pay all the bills, send a letter to the hospital that you are waiting for the insurance to clear then you will pay them. Ask that until then they refrain from calling or billing you.

One reason for the jacked up prices is that most insurers now follow the medicare/medicaid model and only pay a percentage of the list price. Which makes hospitals and doctors raise their prices so that the heavily discounted prices demanded by the insurers will still cover their costs.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna The benefit is almost the least of it. It is the ridiculous charges stated by the hospital. My girlfriend received a $48,000 hospital bill, she is in a panic. I feel pretty sure her final bill for that charge will be just a few thousand like mine, although I don’t know her policy.

The hospital bill breaks down everything into supplies, pharmacy, cardiology, etc. But, does not list all the supplies individually, or meds. I kind of want the breakdown, because when they loaded up a bag for me to take with me, there were two shampoos, two lotions, two sterile wash sprays, and why the hell is there two of everything? Another annoying thing. I gotta wonder if those hotel size shampoos cost me $5 each?

Radiology doctor who read my CT’s and xrays gets $1,000! Seriously? I think he did about 15 minutes of work. And, I mean that is the charge to me $1,000.

@WestRiverrat It has gone through Insurance. Like I said the bill from hospital $30K intially, reduced to the adjusted price of $2,500, I pay $600.

fluthernutter's avatar

It sucks to think they’re getting away with taking advantage of you because you’re tired. But the fact of the matter is that you are tired.

I would tackle the largest amount first and work my way down to the smallest amount.

You probably won’t get through it all. Give yourself a break though. You can only do so much.

YARNLADY's avatar

do not pay any of the bills, but respond to every one of them with the same letter passing responsibility over to the insurance company, with a copy to the insurance company. This could go on for years, so try to accept it as the cost of living.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY What? Why? I did have some services. I was in the hospital for two nights, I had some care. I already paid the ENT and the Hospitalist, because they did their job in my opinion. I paid them as I would a doctor I had gone to see outpatient.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s not our job to decide what the insurance company will and will not cover. Only after the medical provider and the insurance company have done their reductions and payments will we actually know what our share is. The sooner you pay, the sooner the insurance company can drop out of it.

wildpotato's avatar

No, I would advise you to not just give up and pay the bills despite the stress. After having worked from the inside of the industry for years, I can say with confidence that if you do not, you will have one put over on you. WestRiverrat is right on about how the prices are jacked up based on the Medicare schedule. $1000 for a radiology consult does not sound unusual at all to me, unfortunately.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY But, my bill is for what I owe after the insurance company has paid.

JLeslie's avatar

@wildpotato About the radiology, again it is just the reading of the xrays, CT’s and MRI. That sounds like normal fees to you? I paid half for now.

chyna's avatar

@wildpotato So what do you suggest she do?

YARNLADY's avatar

No, I still advise you to talk to the medical billing office and ask them to be absolutely certain that the bills are the patients responsibility.

JLeslie's avatar

Correction: my girlfriend did not receive a bill for $48k it was just a list of fees, kind of a statement from the hospital about the stay. Mine was the same regarding the $30k. Later I received my EOB with the $30k amount, then to the right of that column it says the adjusted amount, and then to the right of that is the $600 I will be responsible for.

wildpotato's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, sounds about right, depending on where you had the service done. Care in big cities and some suburbs can be much more inflated. For 3 scans, $1000 isn’t out of the realm of possibility, especially if you had the CT or MRI done with contrast, or done with & without contrast. Some docs always order them with & without as a matter of course, which is naturally more expensive.

Ouch, that is quite a deductible! Hope your out of pocket max isn’t more than 10 thou. Policies have gotten worse and worse recently.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY Well, my insurance has a $2400 deductable, and then 20/80, I don’t see how I am not responsible, unless you mean they will just give up and forgive what I owe?

jrpowell's avatar

At least you have insurance. I owe over 50K for medical bills. I don’t plan on ever paying it.

“but I am leaning towards just paying everything and putting all the bills in a fat file in my desk and never looking at them again so I can pretend it never happened.”

Consider yourself lucky that you have that option.

JLeslie's avatar

@johnpowell Believe me, it sickens me that people who can barely pay their bills could have an injury and not be able to pay for their care. Thing is, if I had not had insurance, I feel 100% three of the CT’s would not have been done. I would pay $10,000 right now if I could take that radiation out of my body. I never would have guessed they were going to CT my head, stomach and pelvis. If I had known I would have refused it. It makes me sick to my stomach literally. It is the worst part of everything to me. I only get dental xrays once every 2 to 3 years, I never walk through the xray at the airport. I am just sick about it.

Even if I get out of paying for these diagnostics that I feel were completely unnecessary, it would still mean my insurance has paid, and I think that is unfair too. The lack of intrgrity in it bothers me. This goes back to the system. Even if it isn’t money out of my pocket the corruption the “racket” knowing it is happening stresses me.

Sorry to vent everyone. I am pretty wound up about it all today.

wildpotato's avatar

Sorry for multiple posting, but something just occurred to me: there are a few resources out there to help you such as patient advocate services like Accolade. I’ve had reps from Accolade call me before, and they are very polite but persistent in getting the answers their clients want, plus other info they think you might need. Here’s another one I’m not familiar with but seems to offer services to individuals.

chyna's avatar

Who was responsible for the accident? I am not a proponent of suing people, but if this accident wasn’t your fault, you need to notify the hospital that you are going to pursue a lawsuit and they have to stop billing you at that point and wait on your lawsuit to be resolved.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna I doubt we will sue. The fault lies with the driver, or maybe the owner of the golf cart, depending on how you look at it. The driver was completely irresponsible, flying down a steep hill and losing control. Sometimes we feel compelled to sue, but doubt we will. If we won a suit, then does she/he pay the whole thing, including compensating the insurance company?

chyna's avatar

Yes she does, or actually her insurance does. If I were you, I would look into this. I’m sure this was probably a friend, but your out of pocket expenses seem to be out of control on something you had nothing to do with.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna The driver and the owner of the cart don’t have insurance. The golf cart was not insured.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m not sure I understand. You have only have to pay $600 of a $30,000 dollar medical bill and it’s making you angry!?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@JLeslie I would have the hospital run it past the insurance company again, sometimes there are ‘oversites’. Also I found that if I go over the bill before the insurance company gets it, I can usually find some items that are not covered, but if they are reworded they are covered.

Example Lab tests, blood is not covered, but Blood tests, lab is covered.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote Right, it’s ridiculous. The anger from that goes to my disgust at the healthcare system. You have probably seen me on other Q’s bitch about it. The subject makes me stress out. Within that particular bill there might be $100 worth of charges I would take issue with, like the supplies I mentioned, and other small things.

My complaint about the radiologist bill (which is a totally separate bill even though the xrays were done in the hospital) is that it seems like a high amount. But, maybe it is standard?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Is the radiologist actually at the hospital. Our hospital sends them to a radiologist 100 miles away to read them. The GP is just as proficient at reading the xrays and CT scans as the radiologist, but the hospital needs that expert second opinion to avoid lawsuits.

JLeslie's avatar

@WestRiverrat At the hospital. Or, I assume so. All but one scan was done in emergency so I could get out of that flippin’ neck brace. The results were back in less than half an hour.

Edit: do you think they were sent out to have a second check of some sort done? This is a huge hospital.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, it is crazy, ten dollars for an aspirin in a hospital. But if anyone’s being taken advantage of it’s you’re insurance company, not you. I suspect that your insurance company goes over your hospital bill with a fine tooth comb. It’s their money being spent, not yours.

As to the radiologist’s bill: if the x-rays are performed at the hospital, in their facility on their equipment, the hospital bills you for that. The radiologist, the physician who actually reads the x-rays, will bill you separately; that is separate service, examining and evaluating the x-rays. That is very common. There is the technical component, the x-ray and the evaluation. If the radiologist is not an employee of the hospital, is sort of an independent contractor, you will be billed by the radiologist, even if he or she is physically present at the hospital at the time, if she or he is not actually an employee of the hospital.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Then you may have been billed for two radiology consultations because one was inpatient and the other was for the ER visit. If they bill them separately the insurance company will pay more.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote I understand it is common to get a separate bill from each doctor, including the radiologist, it just sounded like a huge bill. The ENT spent almost 45 minutes with me, my cost for her was $190.

Why do you think the insurance company was taken advantage of?

@WestRiverrat The radiology bill has all scans and xrays listed on one bill, inpatient and emergency. Everything related to my stay.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t say I thought the insurance company was being taken advantage of. Maybe I’m still not sure exactly what it is you are angry about. If your total obligation on a $30,000 medical bill is $600 then obviously you are not the one being taken advantage of. If some of that $30,000 is for services that you don’t think you received you are only paying scant pennies on the dollar for those. It is your insurance company that is paying the bulk of any cost associated with services you may not have received.

In your details you said, about how you should react to these bills was “Feel taken advantage of for a short time, but not have to deal with the stress of it all?”

If you are paying only paying $600 on a $30,000 medical bill you are not being taken advantage of; you are enjoying the benefits of having health insurance.

Maybe I am just dense. Maybe I still don’t understand exactly what it is you are upset about in this situation.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote I see why it is so confusing. I am so stirred up, and didn’t want to ramble on forever so it is not all explained well. No one is being charged or paying anywhere close to $30k. Not the insurance company and not me. $30k is the amount they cite for their services. The “adjusted amount” is the amount the insurance company tells the hospital they are going to get away with charging. That is $2500. I am billed $600, so the insurance company already paid out $1900.

My upset is being CT’d from my head to my pelvis, and then supposedly needing to pay for it when I feel I never agreed to it, and never would have. I would have agreed to the neck and chest.

Or, paying for supplies I never used, or a second was opened when the first one was barely used.

Or, that the emergency room failed to sew a deep cut. Inpatient they just kept putting gauze and tagaderm on it as it oozed and bled nonstop. On my 8 hour drive home after being released I had to stop at urgent care, my husband was so upset about the wound. Urgent care finally fixed it. I think what I pay urgent car should be deducted from my hospital bill.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie, O.K. You asked for a vote? I vote that you pay the bills, don’t feel taken advantage of for a single second and simply be grateful that you have that you health insurance, and health insurance that has left with a relatively small amount of the bill that you are responsible for paying. Most of the problems people have with their insurance is that it doesn’t pay enough of their bill and they are stuck with the rest. You seem to be more than adequately insured. Your insurance company may have negotiated a price with hospital, that’s what they do, but if you had no health insurance or inadequate health insurance you would have been saddled with the whole $30,000 or a much, much larger chunk of it. Nearly two thirds of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are the result of the burden of medical bills on people who are uninsured or underinsured. I would suggest you simply be grateful that you are not one of them. That is my vote.

You might also want to take a look at if you feel that your hospital charges were out of line. You can also contact the hospital or your insurance company and try to negotiate a deduction from either your original bill, if you feel the services provided by the hospital were inadequate or to try to get a deduction for the money you spent at the urgent care facility. Other than that, as Jeff Probst on Survivor says: “I’ve got nothing for you, head back to camp.”

Really, I don’t mean to be rude or harsh, but there are many people who would love to have the kind health coverage that you seem have because for many people that kind of coverage means the difference between a reasonably good life and bankruptcy, losing their homes and sometimes, actual on the street homelessness. I honestly don’t think you have any reason to be upset except perhaps about your not receiving adequate care at the hospital and required additional services at urgent care because of it. Not about the bills though, I don’t think.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote I did ask for a vote, and I appreciate it. The bill would never be $30k for anyone, it is because of my insurance. This is the bullshit game I hate. Like I said, my blood test I get every two months is $15 out of pocket, or if It is filed through insurance it says the amount is $125, but then I only pay $9.50. In that instance I come out better through insurance, when my husband had a CT scan I received a bill of $1200! I called around to two places and out of pocket it was $550 to $750, but when I challenged it the billing people said, “you can’t lie to us about not having insurance, we will find out and pursue you.” Or, something to that order. Huh? If I pay out of pocket, which they say they won’t let me, I pay $750 at the most, but if I go with what is negotiated with my insurance the diagnostic center is, was, paid $1500 by my insurance, and I additionally had to pay $1200. I settled on $1,000 because my husband felt he should have called ahead about the prices, but I think he was totally wrong to pay them one red cent.

Years ago when I had an ectopic pregnancy I Needed a second shot of methotrexate to get terminate it, and when I went to get it done my insurance would not approve. Not approve it, it’s really kind of unthinkable. So, I say to the woman trying to help me. How much is it? I’ll just pay, and fight with my insurance company after the fact. She calls to the pharmacy, they figure out it is $450, but she mentions I am a patient of Dr. Maxsoms. The pharmacist says, “oh, for his patients it’s $45 if she goes up to his office to get the shot.” so they were ripping off my insurance company I guess? Insurance had paid for the first shot. This system of deals between the insurance company, employers and medical centers is a farce. And, then our premiums go up, and a bunch of people want to blame now coverng those who were previously uninsured, but there is so much more wrong it is sickening.

I don’t think the $2500 is hugely unreasonable (the total bill for that part of my hospital stay, but I just pay $600) which is why I asked the question, and why I appreciate your answer.

It is not that I think you are beng harsh, I just think maybe you don’t completely understand what is bothering me, but I don’t expect you too. My feelings are all jumled up with having been chronically ill for years, fighting with insurance companies, paying for doctors who didn’t help me, being completely disgusted with the dance insurance and some politicians and some doctors do around the issue. Ooooh, loook JL, your bill was $30k, aren’t you lucky you have such great insurance. Make sure you vote to keep the system just as it is. That is what I think is behind it all. And, if I feel greatful the bill seems reasonable, I probably don’t look over it with a fine tooth comb, and charges that are a little unreasonable get overlooked, let slide, and it allows them to just keep on doing it.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie O.K. I think I’m starting to understand what you are getting at but it’s all very complicated, health care in the U.S., and my brain is starting to shut down and I think all I may be good for at this point is watching a little television and then going to bed. Hopefully I will be up to revisit this tomorrow and have a response for you.

augustlan's avatar

If it will make you feel better, you can call the hospital and ask for an itemized bill, listing every single service, supply, and procedure separately. That way you’ll know exactly what each item costs, and if you’re possibly being billed for items you didn’t get. If, on the other hand, pursuing that will just make you more anxious and aggravated, I’d pay them and chuck them in a drawer. No sense adding insult to injury, right?

Do take a moment to be thankful you have the insurance. I still owe money for an ER visit several years ago, when I was uninsured, and I didn’t even stay overnight. It sucks balls.

YARNLADY's avatar

In my experience, they pad the bill shamelessly, and the more you ask for clarification of the charges, the lower the amount becomes. They keep finding ways to lower your share through accounting adjustments.

Girl_Thursday's avatar

What’s disgusting to me is that if you didn’t have insurance, you’d be in to the hospital, the doctors, radiologists for $30,000. I feel so bad for people with no insurance.

JLeslie's avatar

@Girl_Thursday Nobody would be billed $30,000.

@YARNLADY I want to be sure you know I am not being argumentative with you, or anyone for that matter, I am not sure how I am coming across. I really appreciate the information you have provided. It still bothers me that my insurance pays for something they should not have, even if my part gets reduced.

@augustlan Yes, I realize I can get the itemized bill, but as you realized, that is part of the main question, just pay? Or, challenge things that were not done, or unjust charges. I am thankful when it works in my favor. When it works like the CT for my husband then I don’t know what to think. In the end it makes me want socialized medicine even more, which is what I have always said. I don’t know how much your ER bill was, but I bet over time you have come out ahead. That the average yearly premium for health insurance would have been more, or maybe two years. Even so.

@lillycoyote Right. Complicated. Brain starting to hurt. Just pay for mental sanity. Although, either way I have some anguish.

SuperMouse's avatar

My first reaction was to tell you to keep going through the bills and figuring out one by one what you were charged for and why and being sure you understand where every penny that comes out of your pocked it going. But really, if you are getting so stirred up about this it might be worth it to step back, calm down, and take a break from the whole situation. I don’t think I would recommend paying it all and being done with it.

Let me chime in alongside @johnpowell and @augustlan and point out how fortunate you are to have insurance. If I was in a similar situation I would either have to forgo treatment all together, give up the roof we struggle so hard to keep over our heads, or go thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. To me that is the real problem with the healthcare system, not bloated bills that decrease exponentially after insurance is billed.

JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse Again, if I did not have insurance I am pretty sure I would not be stressed about the CT scans I had that I feel were unnecessary, because I think they would have been less likely to be done, and the bill would not be $30k for someone who is self pay. I am thankful to be insured. The majority of that bill is the CT scans, almost $20k of it. When I get cancer in my body, I will think back to those scans. Seriously. I am dead serious. It keeps me up at night a little bit.

I was in the hospital two nights for observation. The most they did was bring me a bed pan, give me two pain pills a day, and bring me a bed pan, because I could not stand up.

SuperMouse's avatar

@JLeslie now I am curious to find out whether hospitals really perform extra tests on patients who have insurance. I know of two separate incidents of people without insurance walking away with hefty hospital bills because of lots and lots of tests.

I do remember when I had my babies (one was a c-section), watching as a UPC sticker was peeled from everything from a straw to an IV and stuck to my chart so I would be charged for all of it. It is pretty astounding and overwhelming when those bills start showing up. My sister had outpatient surgery recently and spent a total of four hours in the hospital and her bill was close to $50,000. It is truly horrifying.

JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse That is horrific. $50,000! Was she insured? I had outpatient surgery about 12 years ago, same deal about 1.5 hours in surgery, and a few hours post op. My total bill was $10K, I paid several hundred in the end I think. Of course that is many years ago, so I don’t know how much the same surgery is today.

I have a friend who is a surgeon who gets paid about $500 from medicare for a sugery he does. That’s the doctor’s fee. He was saying when he charges the surgery for self pay he charges $7,000. There has to be a more honest number in the middle somewhere?

I really really feel like people need to start fighting back against these outrageous bills. I want some politician to form a committee and bring some integrity back to the system. Hillary Clinton, when she was put in charge of health care reform by her husband, had done quite a bit of investigating this very thing from what I could tell. I saw her speaking out on the illogical of what some insurance companies do, not covering home care, when it was actually cheaper than hospital care and preferred by the patients and their families, and various other things she cited.

I think they do scan the item, the supply, to be billed. I saw them scanning some things.

Some states, like MD, have a cap on how much a supply can be charged over the cost. I can’t remember the numbers, but something like a hospital cannot charge the patient more than 15 times the amount, or maybe it is a percentage increase. What it means is if a straw costs the hospital 10ยข, they can’t charge more than $1.50 say. While other states have no caps and they can charge $5.00. And it does vary that much. My mom knows about it, I can’t remember the details.

I have read articles of people not having as much diagnostic tests done if they don’t have insurance. A percentage of diagnostics are done for CYA, rather than diagnosing. Probably those are not done as much if a patient doesn’t have insurance. And, the MRI I had done I believe was completely unnecessary, now that I understand why I have vertigo, I am very upset about that too. If the hospital had thought they would never be paid for that test, I think they would have waited until after the ENT visited me. I reacted perfect for vertigo caused by the inner ear during her tests, it was a simple diagnosis. Not to mention I spent an hour in an MRI machine while I was in pain and discomfort. I never had any other neurological symptoms.

My sister works in a hospital. She says once a patient is admitted the doctor calls up all his/her friends to get it on the feeding frenzy. Any specialty that can be remotely called in is, because insurance covers it. Even if the general doctor can reasonably assess a lot of it.

syz's avatar

There’s no question in my mind that our medical system is broken. I recently went to the emergency room after suffering 8 hours of severe abdominal pain, waited 2½ hours, to have a doctor walk in the room and say “I don’t see any signs of appendicitis”, write me a script, and walk out. $1800 for a doctor that literally never touched me. No physical exam, no imaging, no tests.

I’ve written a letter of complaint about what I consider to be substandard care to pretty much anyone and everyone involved. And I’m paying the bill. $10 a month. Oh, I could pay the whole thing off, but I’m pissed, so they can wait for their damn money. (Just call me petty.)

JLeslie's avatar

@syz Do you have medical insurance?

syz's avatar

@JLeslie I do. But I have a $2500 copay.

Judi's avatar

I had a mammogram last year and it was at a time when the imaging center was merging with a hospital. I got a bill from the hospital, and was confused, so I called the hospital and discovered it was for the mammogram and paid it.
I am really bad at keeping records so I didn’t save anything. I paid it with a health care savings account and trying to talk to them is like pulling teeth.
The other day I got a bill from the imaging center. I called them and they could find no record of it.
I just paid the $77 which was my part and moved on. By the time I did all the research I would be into it three or four hours and my time is worth more than that, not to mention the frustration.
It appears as I get older, I fight fewer battles on principal. I reserve that energy for the really big fights.

JLeslie's avatar

@syz Was the $1800 the insurance negotiated amount?

BTW a friend of mine was twice in the ER and twice to her doctor over few years for what she told them must be her appenidix. No doctor agreed. Then she had an accute attack while away on business, that third ER decided it was her appendix, it was removed, she never had another problem. Not saying that is the same as your case, but thought I would share the story. I don’t know why the other doctors refused to believe it was her appendix.

@Judi I do that a lot of the time. This bill has me wound up mainly because of my upset over the unnecessary/unwanted scans I think. Plus, as I mentioned my history with medical care and the health insurance system. If I had been informed exactly what they planned to scan I would have signed whatever they needed to not have it done. I actually was treated horribly in the CT room (which is unrelated to which scan were ordered by the doctor) and stated it in a letter I wrote to the hospital. I also praised their tech/aide staff and two nurses. Anyway, the person who is in charge of CT called me and apologized, and said I was treated badly, that she has addressed some of the issues with the staff, and thanked me for the feedback. Gotta give her credit, it made me feel much better. The only time I cried during my whole stay after having my body seriously beaten by that accident was because of how they treated me in CT. Even after the accident, the only that was really causing me to be weepy was recalling the CT incident, not the accident. The way she handled my complaint made a huge difference in my emotion about it now.

Blackberry's avatar

Hey guys, let’s all save money in a pool and go to Canada.

Judi's avatar

JLeslie, the owner of the golf cart probably has insurance, and the driver probably had homeowners insurance that would cover it. You really shouldn’t have to be out of pocket at l for this, and you shouldn’t even need an attorney to get these guys insurance companies to reimburse your expenses.
My moms homeowners insurance paid when my sister kicked her shoe through a window at school.
We had a resident in our apartment who got off his meds and destroyed an apartment and his parents who co signed got the damage covered by their homeowners insurance.
The property owner where you were hurt probably has insurance to cover as well.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi He said he checked his homeowners and wasn’t covered. The owner of the cart is kind of protecting the driver, I should call her directly probably. I called my insurance, well my husband did, and they said the coverage would usually be under auto. That he would have to have insured the cart under auto.

Maybe I’ll call my insurance again and see if I get different information. Not that I expect my insurance to cover it, just that thay would know the types of coverage that is possible.

The property owner where I was hurt, it was a race track. We sign a waiver they are not responsible. I was told I probably still could sue them. Supposedly a lot of people have been hurt on that same hill.

No matter what the money, the bills, and the system aggravates me. But, if the people who caused the accident took some financial responsibility it would make things better.

By the way, we will see the owner of the cart at other track events.

Judi's avatar

It might be time to get an attorney darn it. Sad thing is, it sounds like all you want is reimbursement for your expenses, but once an attorney gets involved there are a bunch of attorneys fees.

SuperMouse's avatar

What blows me away in light of all of this and the incredibly broken healthcare system in our country is how many people are blindly opposed to Obama’s healthcare plan. Odds are good most of those opposed have and have always had health insurance and have no clue what it is like to live knowing that they are one medical crisis away from financial devastation. I live in a very conservative area of the country and I hear so many people saying it must be repealed while literally knowing nothing about the particulars on the bill. It is so frustrating!

@JLeslie it has got to be annoying to know that those responsible, including the driver, golf cart owner, and property owner are all able to wash their hands of the situation while you will no doubt be working for months to straighten all of this out. @Judi it is so frustrating to think that any attorney involved would be considered an ambulance chaser and @JLeslie might be hassled for bringing in someone to look out for her interests. Doggone what an irritating situation!

JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse From what I can tell Obama did not change the system, he just extended it to more people.

The worst part is my shoulder and knee still hurt and I still have vertigo in some positions.

Judi's avatar

By the way, when I had a golf cart you bet your ass I had it covered by my insurance! It wasn’t that expensive and I didn’t want the liability!

nikipedia's avatar

You are probably not going to be able to get around paying the $600, but it sounds like that isn’t your issue.

Have you thought about looking into doing some political activism to promote health care reform?

JLeslie's avatar

@nikipedia I think about it, but mental health care is even worse in the US than medical, so I am reluctant to get more involved. :)

JLeslie's avatar

I just called my insurance, they are seeing if I have coverage since I was a passenger. Then they can go after the driver or the owner’s insurance if there is any coverage.

Thanks everybody.

Don’t let this info stop any answers to the main question. I appreciate everyones input.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I vote for paying the bills, being happy you’re able to do it and avoid collections hassles. Your anger at the healthcare system is valid but it still is separate from the fact you were taken care of, right?

I’ve also had stacks and months of bills from a single incident and never before knew how stressful and complicated one thing going wrong could become. I had the choice to refuse to pay $325. (my portion) for a Dr. to come look at my chart and introduce themselves to me which took less than 3 minutes or let that Dr.‘s accounting dept. put a collections on my credit record which would have haunted me for very simple things like being approved to have utilities in my name.

People asked me last week why I didn’t go to an emergency room for stitches on an accidental gouge when I’ve got insurance? It’s because I would have paid extra for an ER visit, waited several hours in pain in a germ filled environment, missed being paid at work and then have received billings from at least 3 more depts. to get the same result as patching and butterflying at home.

Healthcare is a business like any other, a tug a war between common public perception because it’s medicine then it should be standardized and the businesses goal of survival and profits. We think insurance companies help standardize but they are their own business too.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If you are going to end up suing, then pay the bill. You stand a better chance of winning if you have paid or are paying on the bill.

SuperMouse's avatar

@syz have you since been able to get a real diagnosis?

mamarose's avatar

I don’t want to sound mean but you are lucky to be able to go to a doctor or hospital. about a year ago I fell and fractured my wrist I could not go to the hospital or doctor because I have no money to pay. I borrowed a wrist brace from someone and took over the counter ibuprophin and kept ice on it for the swelling. However I don’t think it healed right but it was the best I could do. I also have a degenerative back disease can’t afford trearment for that either. I live in pain everyday of my life and will never get better. So if all you have to do is pay a small portion of your medical bills consider yourself lucky.

serenade's avatar

tl;dr (sort of)—@JLeslie, if you’re serious, why don’t you hire someone with health insurance experience to deal with it? Surely, that would be loads cheaper and get you out of the loop. I’m sure there’s a claims processing “monkey” or member service rep or somebody who would want to work a few extra hours for cash.

Another thing to keep in mind is that insurance cos have appeals and grievance processes that must respond to your complaints and that work their way through levels of appeals all the way to your state’s department of insurance. So if you aren’t getting satisfactory responses from your insurer, that route is available to you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know…what I admire about this question @JLeslie is that, when all was said and done, you could have just paid the $600 and be done with it. I admire the fact that your concern is with WHO is getting ripped off on the bogus charges. If it is the insurance companies, then the policy holders are getting ripped off because their rates will go up eventually, due to that kind of thing. And it’s a viscous cycle.

I believe Obama WANTED to change the whole system, but for now, just getting it extended was what he had to settle for. We’ll see what his next term will bring.

When I had my first baby I went over the bill with a fine tooth comb. They charged me for an epidural that I hadn’t had, an episotomy that I hadn’t had, stitches that I hadn’t had. About an extra $8,000. I called the hospital and they corrected the bill…and thanked me.

JLeslie's avatar

@serenade I don’t feel inclined to hire someone, but it is interesting to learn they even exist. I doubt it would save me a lot of money, since I would have to pay them. It would just be on principle maybe to have them get some money, and the hospital less. I don’t feel that angry at the hospital and doctors, even though I am annoyed with how some things were done and some charges. Overall they did care for me.

@Dutchess_III Exactly! And, thank you for being on the same page as me with that. It costs us all. It is the bigger picture that sickens me most, the systemic wrongs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So..have you tried calling the billing department and asking them about it? Have you tried sending an email to Obama? :) Or…Michelle,at least. :) Or your congressman.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III About 4 years ago I had a bill I seriously challenged with a local doctor. When I received my bill I was in shock. My part to pay was $400, but what I was questioning was $250 of the charge, because previous doctors for the same pocedure I was either charged nothing, because it was included as part of the exam, or up to $35 if they billed it separately. I had called the billing department to talk to them about it, went back and forth, blah blah, and then a week later I got a certified letter never to come back and bill was sent to collections. I was furious! I had been in touch trying to work it out, I had not ourtright refused to pay, and I was in touch with them waiting for their call back. Deadbeats don’t get in touch with billing to see if the fee is correct.

I wrote a letter to Better Buinsess Bureau (BBB) and my insurance, and paid the sons of bitches so they could try to see it was not about only the money out of my pocket. At least they had to write a letter to reply to BBB. The manager said in her reply she had wished I would have contacted her. I had asked to speak to my doctor about the bill, the person who did the procedure, and I never was allowed to. Anyway, I didn’t know this other woman existed, I think the woman in billing should have escalated it to her boss, and that person should have called me back. Instead they obviously chose to listen to the billings persons impression I guess that I won’t pay the bill at all.

In my 44 years of being on this earth, I think I have written 4 letters, including the one to the hospital we are talking about, questioning how I was treated or something with billing. There have been many many times I have felt mistreated, but I just move along and try to put it behind me. Two of the times I have felt satisfied by a reply, one time I was horrified by how they misinterpreted my letter, and this time it is a mixed bag. Getting an unsatisfactory reply feels worse than trying to just move on honestly. That is why I tend to just pay the bill at this point.

About writing a politician, I think about it. That goes back to @nikipedia‘s point, that I answered kind of sarcasticly. I think about getting together three or four ridiculous examples that are current where a patient paying self pay pays much much less for a procedure than the insurance negotiated price, or bills like mine with huge scary big numbers on them that are never a real number, or the examples of my blood tests. I would have to write several I think if I did it. I think some would just not get it. Dismiss it saying, see isn’t it great you have insurance. I guess as I write this I realize I, at this point, am gun shy of being misunderstood, and that would just make me more crazy. Not here on this Q, as I tried to be as brief as possible in my question, and I don’t mind at all jellies wanting to clarify what was bothering me. If I wrote to a politcian I would spend time gathering examples, making the information very complete. The politician probably would not try to clarify anything, they would either get what I was annoyed about or throw it in the circular file. I have low confidence, but maybe I am wrong. I mean really, I don’t see how at least 30% of America does not already know what I am talking about? It is baffling to me. Anyone who has any illness and reads their EOB’s, or asks a question about fees at a doctors office at all would be sort of clued in I would think? But, since many people have copays they read nothing. My very close girlfriend, we were recently talking about the topic, and she said she has great insurance they covered everything when her daughter needed some extensive tests done. That is not the point.

And, how many people, Republicans mostly, are fighting hard to keep the system as is. They somehow twist any information about health care into the rose colored glasses they currently look through. People in both parties just care about the cost out of their own pocket, and not the bigger picture, except for a select few.

I just had a conversation with a friend about health care costs per person in the US vs. other nations, and he kept saying they pay higher taxes for their socialized medicine. I said I know, but we are talking about the actual cost, not whether the money is paid by the government through taxes or paid directly from patient to doctor. He could not understand what I meant. He kept saying they pay higher taxes.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have paid off 5 or 6 bills to our local hospital over the course of the last 17 years. It probably amounts to a total of $7000. I paid what I could, $10, $20, $50 a month. Most recently I had three bills, all over $1500. I paid one off completely, in that way. Had another paid down to $65, and the last one I owed about $300 on. I had paid something on every bill faithfully, for the last 4 years. Suddenly, out of the blue, they sent the $300 to collections. I was PISSED. Fortunately we have another hospital, a better one, actually, that was recently built along the highway between here and another town. They don’t have anything to do with each other. I made sure of that before I sent a scathing letter to the board of the hospital here in town, letting them know I’d be going elsewhere from now on. I pointed out that their biggest loss, of course, wasn’t the nickle and dime stuff they got from me. It would be the THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS IN INSURANCE PAYMENTS THEY WOULD NO LONGER BE GETTING ON BEHALF OF ME AND MY FAMILY. I was so tempted to have our local paper print the letter in then opinion column. Maybe I should still do that.

wildpotato's avatar

@serenade Pretty insulting to characterize us as “claims processing monkeys.” We work hard, and the job is not as brainless as you seem to think.

JLeslie's avatar

@wildpotato How often do you hear stories and think the company just sucks with how they are treating a customer, or evaluating a claim? I think it must be tough to have to listen to that sort of thing, I am sure it must happen. The standard line is, “well, under your policy…” so off course it is not the employee’s fault who is talking to me on the phone, they/you must get a lot of frustration taken out on you daily. One thing that really bothers me about medical billing is I am not talking to a medical person when discussing the bill, and a lot of time the description of the service is terrible. I don’t know what I am paying for, the insurer’s respresentative doesn’t know, and either does the billing person at the medical office.

wildpotato's avatar

@JLeslie All the time, unfortunately. And you’re right – all we can usually do is describe the patient’s crappy policy back to them. It is tough to have to do this constantly if you have any compassion, which most of us do. Thanks for understanding.

I think most of us medical billing people would agree with you that the problem is compounded, and in some cases created, by our lack of medical training. The trend is actually moving towards hiring billing people who are not even accredited within the field, such as myself and my ex-coworkers – I would be harder to hire if I got the official medical coding education and certification, because they’d have to pay me more. My old company certainly did not encourage us to get more education in the field. We all got laid off recently in favor of outsourcing to a call center out of Missouri, where they make awful billing mistakes and won’t be able to give any one-on-one to patients at all.

JLeslie's avatar

@wildpotato Sorry to hear about the layoffs. Yeah, a lot of time billing for a doctor is done by a billing center rather than calling to the doctors office, it makes me sick. I was a realtor, and some big companies have the relators doing the sale up to the point of signatures on the sales contract, and then it is handed off to a closing person the rest of the way through. I think that is awful. The sales person builds rapport with the person and then they are handed off? So much for rapport at that point, it just feels like the persn is out for the sale, the money, and doesn’t really give a damn about the clients happiness.

I really have a problem with doctors having no knowledge of how the billing works, how much their fees are, and referrng to the insurance cmpany for answers that the doctor is going to perform. What kind of sense does that make, how can anyone be happy with that situation, exceot the insurance companies, their lobbyists, and politicians who are wooed by them.

serenade's avatar

@wildpotato- none meant. I’ve worked in healthcare admin. Perhaps I should have said “jockeys.” I meant to imply someone who had expertise but would be relatively cheap to hire.

wildpotato's avatar

@serenade No worries. I understand now; thanks for the clarification.

SpatzieLover's avatar

No I wouldn’t pay until I exhausted the billing department of the hospital. I have done so on more than one occassion and have reduced my bills significantly. In our case these were bills for our son.

After researching the going rates of each itemized cost on the bills, we found the hospital was charging 5 times the going rate.

We saved every email with the billing manager. We let the CFO of the hospital know that we would hire an attorney if they persued further paymen after we paid the going rate (what we felt was the fair amount to be charged).

We have insurance, but we also have a large deductible.

My grandparents had taught me from little on: Never pay a medical bill until you’ve scrutinized every charge. My grandparents regularly had bills totaling tens of thousands of dollars due to their cardiological needs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My daughter had a hernia surgery when she was 13. I made sure the hospital she went to was covered under the HMO (or whatever) for my insurance. When I got the bill they had only paid 70%, not 90%. I called. They said, “Yes, the hospital is HMO, but the doctor who performed the surgery isn’t.”
So…I went to war. Long story short, that particular doctor BECAME HMO qualified for my insurance! :) They paid the other 20%.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I don’t know if it is that the people who work within the system think everyone outside of the system should know there are going to be separate bills from every different doctor and service, and know to ask about insuramce coverage for each person who will care for us while we have a hospital stay or procedure, or what?

Literally, when I have had a procedure done at a doctors office and then complained later about the fee, I have been told I should call ahead to find out what it costs. So, I am supposed to say to my doctor during an appointment, before you look in my ear, let me see how much it costs, because the doctor has no idea, because it depends on my plan. It’s horrible. Why is anyone ok with it?

flo's avatar

I wonder if 20/20, 60 Minutes have looked into it? I have heard of this complaint too. I vote for getting together with people in the same situation so you can share the cost of the expert to figure it out and put an end to it once and for all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yo @flo! Where you been??

flo's avatar

@Dutchess_III I’ve been around, what do you mean?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I just haven’t seen you in a while! We must have missed each other.

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