Medical Bills, Insurance Claims and Other Forms of Sheer Nonsense

Album Cover: First Impressions of Earth

"Don't be a coconut. God is trying to talk to you."
The Strokes / Ask Me Anything

Posted on February 18, 2009 11:38 PM in Blathery
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

As you may recall, back in December, my wife underwent what one might think was a routine medical procedure -- giving birth. However, if you had any idea the sheer number of bills I've received from both the hospital and various doctors who were involved but contracted separately, and claims forms I've received from my insurance company, you'd be blown away. You'd think my wife had had laser heart surgery, undergone a face transplant, had titanium cochleas installed, and had required the skilled hands of only the most renowned surgeons known to man.

But no, she had a baby. Am I to believe that everyone who has a baby has to deal with all of this nonsense? I'm getting redundant bills I've already paid, I'm getting bills that show some claims submitted to insurance companies I've never been associated with and others submitted to the correct insurance company (on the same bill!), and bills telling me that the hospital owes me money! I'm getting letters from collections agencies already, even though the birth happened only two months ago and I've been responding to all bills in as timely a fashion as possible.

Sure, it's great that I can pour hundreds of dollars into health insurance every month and know that when the big bills come around, the insurance company will bear the brunt of it, but for that kind of money, how about being the go-between between the doctors and me? Do all your redundant handshaking and bargaining, and send me a single bill when all is said and done and the dust settles. I'll gladly pay it. In fact, I'd probably be willing to pay more each month if you'd keep the whole process as opaque as possible in the interim. We all know the doctors are charging too much, the negotiations are arbitrary but are doubtless benefiting everyone but me, so why not just keep me out of it until your ridiculous game is over?


Ian Clifton on February 19, 2009 at 12:30 AM:

This seems like one of the (many) reasons the medical expenses are so excessive. Every incorrect bill sent out cost money and time to do and potentially fix. You would think they would just itemize the charges on a single bill. They could always assign each item a letter or number and include additional pages with the appropriate letter/number for extra info if it is really needed.

Oh well, you know people, if it can be made overly complicated, it will be.


Ryan on February 19, 2009 at 12:24 PM:

I know your pain.

My proposed solution.


Bernie Zimmermann on February 19, 2009 at 11:04 PM:

I remember reading that post back when you posted it a year ago, Ryan. I think it's a great idea to have that information available up front. I think some of the things I've read about Google Health look promising, too. Even if we can't get up-front details directly from the medical providers, it would be great if people were able to start sharing their bills publicly so that the data could be used by others to get a feel for what they might have to pay, how their insurance compares to others' out there, etc. I'd love to see some of these things coming to fruition in my lifetime, if not for my benefit, at least for my daughter's.


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