Author Topic: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call  (Read 4791 times)

keepingmobens

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I would just like to share my quick story, it's both encouraging and frustrating at the same time. My wife is prego, and since she's over 35, they recommended she have genetic testing done just to make sure there were no problems. It turned out fine, I really didn't feel the testing was necessary anyway, she was just barely over the recommended age limit of 35. So anyway, a couple months later we get a bill for $2762 for the testing. I was like "WHAT???" They had submitted it to our insurance, and apparently it went towards our deductible (which is like 6K/year), but they wouldn't actually pay any of it. So, we called them, and the lady said, "Oh, well if your insurance wouldn't pay, we can go ahead and reduce the bill to $200." While I am very grateful they reduced it, it really irks me that there can be an industry where something can have that drastic of a change. I would imagine the testing probably costs very little to do, they probably make a profit even at the $200 level. There is no reason they should be billing the insurance close to $3000. I sell car parts for a living, and to think that we could get a $3000 engine reduced to $200 would be absolutely unheard of. No other industry could operate like this. Just curious about your thoughts. /rant over. :)

Daleth

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Re: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 11:56:05 AM »
I completely agree, it's outrageous. What she probably did is bill you what they would've billed your insurance if your insurance had been willing to pay. Some friends of mine who are alternative health practitioners were complaining recently about how they were approached by insurers offering to add my friends to their list of covered providers--but the insurer required them to (1) accept $X for the insurer's patients, with $X being a lot less than what they normally charge, AND (2) sign a contract agreeing that they WOULD NOT give discounts to patients who DON'T have that insurance. My friends all said no because they thought it was unethical to make all their other patients subsidize the insurer's patients. They would've signed up in a heartbeat if they were still allowed to continue offering sliding-scale (income dependent) pricing for other patients, but that would've been a breach of their contract with the insurer! Our system is so broken.

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 12:02:07 PM »
Congrats on both accounts!

Who exactly did you call to get it reduced? I can't believe they didn't threaten you with collections or offer a payment plan?

I share your frustration with the industry.

Left

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Re: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 12:03:10 PM »
I doubt they make a profit at $200, it probably if barely covers the costs of the reagents/and doesn't cover the labor costs of the people running the tests...

But yeah, hospital costs do vary, there was a study that collected costs of various hospital bills around the country that shows up much they can vary. Lots of talk about it when it came out a while back. http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Medicare-Provider-Charge-Data/
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 12:04:54 PM by eyem »

Lans Holman

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Re: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 12:06:29 PM »
We had something similar, I wonder if it was the same company.  We had the testing done when my wife was pregnant, then a year later the bill shows up.  We sort of procrastinated on paying it, both because it was such a surprise and because we were hoping to see if we could appeal to the insurance company, and then a month later we get a new bill, lopping off $1000 as a "courtesy adjustment".  One time I'm really glad I didn't just pay a bill the moment it came in.  But yeah, health care billing and finances are a weird and arbitrary realm.

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2013, 12:06:40 PM »
I doubt they make a profit at $200, it probably if barely covers the costs of the reagents/and doesn't cover the labor costs of the people running the tests...

But yeah, hospital costs do vary, there was a study that collected costs of various hospital bills around the country that shows up much they can vary. Lots of talk about it when it came out a while back. http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Medicare-Provider-Charge-Data/

How do they stay in business, insanely overcharging the 20% who actually do pay?

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2013, 12:08:35 PM »
I'm making payments on the $1200 on a deductible to a hospital. I guess I'm going to call for a "courtesy adjustment".

keepingmobens

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Re: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2013, 12:09:37 PM »
Congrats on both accounts!

Who exactly did you call to get it reduced? I can't believe they didn't threaten you with collections or offer a payment plan?

I share your frustration with the industry.

I simply called the testing company who sent us the bill. After they billed our insurance, and our insurance informed them they weren't going to pay, then they billed us directly. I "assumed" they are still making some kind of profit at the $200 level since they seemed relatively willing to lower it to that level without offering a payment plan, etc. I doubt if they were actually losing money, they would be so willing to lower it. I don't think threatening us with collections was an option because the bill wasn't late, we called them as soon as we received it.

fallstoclimb

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Re: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2013, 12:11:57 PM »
This is standard practice.  Always, always, always call the billing area to see what kind of deductions you can make on your bill.  Hospitals I believe are worse than outpatient physicians, but all of them just make up these amounts to charge, and then insurers pay a percent of that amount, but the uninsured are left paying the full amount unless they know to call.  It's really terrible. 

MissStache

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Re: Got a medical bill reduced from $2762 to $200 with a 1 min phone call
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2013, 08:09:34 AM »
I used to work in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for an auto insurer, and we reduced bills to the amount that was set by the State of Pennsylvania.  I would see bills reduced from $6,000 to $38 (or some other arbitrary tiny amount) 10-15 times a day.  We once had a bill come in for $350,000 that was reduced to $250.

It made me furious, because what do people who have no health insurance (or no vehicle-related health insurance) do when they get bills like this?  It is unconscionable.