WHY must you send me ten bills?

For a $250 emergency room visit, WHY must I get eight bills?

First, let me just say I am happy to have the luxury of health insurance. I know there are many people who are without it right now and I know I am fortunate to have it.

Couldn’t the billing process be streamlined a bit?

I have already received a bill for $161.20 from the actual hospital , $44.20 from the doctor IN the hospital and $3.57 for a variety of blood work. According to my health insurance website I’m still waiting for a variety of bills for people who helped treat me. Clearly I’ve just touched the surface. I only received these three bills so far. Looks like I can expect another four, and those are just the ones who have submitted the claim. The woman at my health insurance told me I can probably expect close to ten bills in the end. FOR ONE VISIT?

Couldn’t the hospital compile all the bills so I can just make one payment, in one shot? Some of the bills I am waiting for are $2.57 and $3.87. Seriously? It can’t be consolidated into one bill?  This is 2011. The system is this inefficient?

For all I know I am paying $4 to the guy who wheeled me around for tests and $6 for a technician to read results. These people are needed for the process, but don’t they work for the hospital that already sent me a bill?! Is there no way to streamline bills so the hospital can distribute payment to the appropriate parties? At this rate, I’m waiting to see if I owe any money to the woman who checked me in at the front desk or the man who gave me the CDs of my results.

On top of getting multiple bills for a 8 hour stay, there must be a lot of people who don’t pay their ER bills. Three days, THREE, after I got the bill from the hospital, I got another, identical to the first. I didn’t have time to pay it in three days, so they send another bill? Another day or two passed and then I got a call from the hospital billing department asking for payment over the phone. Really? I know I have about 30 days to pay it, but could you at least give me ten days before you send the billing department after me? What’s next – collections at two weeks?

When I lived in London, I had COBRA from my parents and thankfully I never had to visit a hospital or doctor in all the time I was away and traveling. If I was feeling sick, I went to the chemist. I’d tell him or her what was wrong, they’d direct me to an aisle, and I’d get meds…some of which would be considered prescription in the States. There, most everything was available over the counter. Paid for the meds and possibly pick up a few more things (it was like going to CVS or Rite Aid in the States) and I was on my way.

Obviously, when your doctor tells you to go to the emergency room – and he says ‘do not pass go, do not collect $200,’ you go. There was no way around it. But couldn’t the hospital just collect the $200 or $300, or whatever the costs after insurance will ultimately be, and distribute it to everyone that gets a cut?! WHY is this billing system such a waste of time, effort and paper? WHY?

WHY Wednesday.

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