Scared to pay hospital bills

For starters I work at a hospital business office and I am pissed of at patients wh o do not respond to us or pay their bills. And then when they go to bad debt they put a fight. Motherfuckers need to pay their fucking medical bills. Shit you can even pay 5.00 a month on any account and we won’t turn you over to bad debt. So this is for all those who don’t respond from letters they are mailed you yall by hospitals. It says on the letter contact us in 10 working days or your acct will be handed over to bad debt. I would say about 5% of customers respond to any letters regarding insurance info. What is the deal dopers?

The deal is that the people who rack up medical bills (i.e. those that don’t have insurance) are exactly the group of people who are least able to afford to pay their medical bills. You know what they say about getting blood from a turnip. It doesn’t matter how many letters you send if the people don’t have the money to pay.

In the vast majority of cases, I don’t consider people who can’t pay medical bills to be deadbeats. It’s not quite in the same ballpark as living beyond your means and racking up stuff like unsecured credit card debt. The situation sucks all around.

A counter-story. My mother, recently deceased, had a visit to the emergency room in her last few weeks. She was covered by Medicare and an HMO - in such a case, the HMO acts as a supplemental insurer.

I keep getting bills from the hospital for that visit, showing that nothing has been paid. Each time, the bill says, “Your insurance company has denied responsibility for this bill.” Each time, I have sent it back with a note, explaining that the HMO won’t touch it until the hospital collects from Medicare. Each time, I’ve provided my mother’s Medicare ID number. Future bills from them are destined for the recycling bin.

If you want to get fucking paid, learn how to fucking process the bills!

The one and only time a hospital sent me a bill that said ‘respond or you will be reported to bad debts’ it was a bill for $30 some three years after I had been to that hospital for lab tests.

When I went for the lab tests, I presented my insurance information to the hospital, and the hospital billed the insurance company. At the time, my ‘member responsibility’ for particpating, in network hospitals for lab work was 0$. I got a letter a couple of weeks later from the insurance company stating that the bill had been paid in full, and one from the hospital stating that the bill had been paid in full by my insurance company.

So the bill I got three years later with the ‘we will report you to bad debts’ was entirely and totally ignored. It was apparently also never reported, as it’s been a full year since that, and I’ve never heard from a collection agency nor has a negative mark shown up on my credit report.

There is one aspect I love that a lot of people do not understand or do not know. The hospital file your insurance as a courtesy to you we are not bound by law to file for you. It always pisses me off that people get mad when there bill is not filed correctly. Do it yourselves you dumbasses we do not have to file it.

Bullshit. The OP said that they would accept $5.00 a month for not turning it over to collection. Anyone who can’t afford five bucks didn’t have an address to get a bill. The deadbeats who skip out on paying make it more expensive for everyone else. People who work in hospitals aren’t slave labor. They have to be paid.

My experiences are like several others have already mentioned.

I currently have health care, but for several years I did not due to a lack of employment. When I signed up for their county-assisted insurance program, I had to give them all of my relevant information-income, savings, address, contact info. I then began seeing doctors for my conditiona nd accepting prescriptions.

Now, years later I’m receiving collections notices. The notice is for $700. That $750 is for 2 doctors visits I believe. That is $375 per occurence. WTF? $375 to visit a doctor where no work besides a checkup and a scrip were performed? And while on a low/no income program? Fuck that.

So I call on it and I’m routed to a call center in India. I demand a better number to contact them. They then tell me they can’t help, but the Hospital administration/billing department can. THey tell me they can’t help me, but the County Dept. of Revenue can. THEY tell me THEY can’t help me, and only the collections company can help me.

I was told they had a bad address on file and that’s why I went to collections. I call bullshit yet again because I lived at the same place for over 3 years. I updated my info with them and they said they’d send a bill for my current charges. THat was over a month ago and I still have no bill for the current, uncollectable charges.

My hunch is that not only are the people who are not paying unable to, but most hospital billing departments are so incompetent that billings aren’t sent out and the patients don’t ever get to see them until it’s too late. Since there is so much confusion, lack of follow-through, and misinformation being spewed in a circular argument fashionw here everyone is chasing their tails and laying the blame on someone else, I don’t blame people for not paying.


I’m not denying that people who can’t/don’t pay make costs higher for everyone. I’m speaking only in realities, and the reality of the situation is that there are a lot of people who can’t afford even the $5/month it would take to avoid being referred to a collection agency. Or maybe they could scrape up the $5, but they figure they might as well use it for food than give it to the hospital because their credit already ruined and having a bad debt for medical bills isn’t going to make it much worse. We went through this when the board was going to pay-to-post and legions of people came out of the woodwork to say why they couldn’t/wouldn’t pay even such a small sum as $5. What is boils down to is that people have priorities and for a lot of people, unpaid medical bills are last on their list.

And furthermore, the people least likely to be able to pay are also the people charged the most! Hospitals often charge people without insurance 3 to 4 times what they charge insurers for the exact same service. As far as I’m concerned, not paying hospital bills when you genuinely can’t afford to do so is about as unethical as eating turnips.

And I’d really like more information on that 5.00 figure. Does that mean I can get a $15,000 operation, and only pay $5 a month on it? That would take 250 years to pay off, and eventually inflation would eventually make $5 less then it costs the hospital to process the account. :dubious:

Note that the $5.00/month figure came only from the OP – never on any medical bill have I seen a similar figure. Moreover, while that may be true where he/she works, it may not be a general rule.

You’d better plug up that hole in your heart, or you’re going to bleed to death. A person who doesn’t have five bucks doesn’t have credit to ruin. If they do, then it means they have a lot of shit they couldn’t afford and ought to sell. And if a person will starve without the five dollars, then he’s already homeless and in a shelter somewhere. This isn’t the Sudan. Nobody who is on welfare or has a minimum wage job cannot afford $5. You’re making this out like its the big bad hospital who has everybody by the balls when the fact of the matter is that there is rampant frivolous abuse of emergency rooms all across the country, and people go into them with exactly the attitude you have — I ain’t gonna owe these people anything; they owe it to me.

You really are a stark raving loon. Aren’t you the one who was falling all over himself to cough up donation subscriptions to the board for people who “couldn’t afford” the $5 fee?

If I can just interject a few facts:

  1. The OP is correct. The hospital bills as a courtesy. However; should someone send in a note with a correct ID# (Medicare or otherwise) and say “this is the correct insurance, please update and bill,” they should bloody well do it! It takes less time to collect from Medicare (turnaround of 10 days for an electronic claim) and you don’t have to pay a collections agency a percentage. Plus, if you’re contracted with Medicare, you are required by law to bill them prior to sending patients collections notices. If you work in the billing office, you should know that. Early Out, you may want to call the hospital business office and remind them. The reason they’re probably reluctant to bill Medicare is that most HMO’s don’t work as a supplement, they work as a Medicare replacement plan.

  2. Metacom, everyone is charged the same amount. There is no “increased price” for uninsured patients. It’s just that contracted insurances require hospitals and providers to take a substantial write off on their fees, usually down to about a third of billed charges depending on the current year’s RBRVS (pricing system). For uninsured patients, there is no write off. Unless they contact the billing department and say “I have no job, no home, no way of paying this,” in which case they are able to apply for indigent status, and their bills will be deferred and in some cases paid by state medical agencies or the AMA.

  3. If these patients are truly unable to pay their bills, they can obtain medicaid coverage by contacting the hospital social worker. The hospital won’t see too much money, but more than they would by sending out a bill and eventually sending a patient to collections, putting it against the patient’s credit report, and writing it off as bad debt.

There is a system in place to help, people need to learn how to use it. It is not up to the hospital system to teach it to them.

Metacom, I always suspected you were an intolerant turnip-eating nazi apologist, and this is the final nail in the coffin.

  1. Sure, many hospitals will allow you to make partial payments. The hospital here would be delighted. They immediately tack 20% on to your bill if you do, but gee, that’s no big deal.

  2. My husband was in and out of the hospital for the past two years. I have received, so far, 45 hospital bills for five visits. I can do that math! That’s 9 bills per visit. Pardon me if I sometimes don’t have any clue what the heck is going on.

  3. You say it’s a courtesy to me? Then how about you give me all the information I need to submit it myself. I’ve asked and you people look at me like I’m the stupid one.

  4. You send bills with vague references like: This invoice means that we have either not heard from your insurer or are done working with them. Well, which the fuck is it? There’s a slight difference between the two.

  5. I’ve gotten bills three years late. If you dumbasses can’t figure out that you offered me “services,” I’m not going to be in any hurry to pay for them.

  6. I’ve gotten bills for procedures that weren’t done, or gotten double billed. Sorry, but no. I’m not paying for two echocardiograms, you dumbfucks. And if you had the slightest clue, you’d realize that it’s pretty fucking unlikely that my husband had two heart caths in the same fucking day.

  7. I’ve gotten notices that the hospital doesn’t have my correct address sent to my correct address.

  8. I’ve gotten notices that the hospital doesn’t have my insurance information. The day before and the day after, I got notices showing my insurance information on file and how a claim was submitted.

In other words, I have never in my life encountered such rampant stupidity, vicious condescension, and overbearing arrogance as I have encountered from a dozen hospital and doctor billing personnel.

So, bite me.

My wife recently received a bill in a situation similar to catsix’s.

She had a car accident about 20 months ago, in which the other driver was completely at fault. He ran up the back of her while she was stationary at a red light.

She had to go an get regular physical therapy for a few months after that. His insurance company was stalling about paying her medical bills, so she went to see a lawyer. The lawyer did his job, and the guy’s insurance company ended up paying enough to cover her medical bills plus some extra after the lawyer took his cut.

This was all finalized well over six months ago. Then, about a week or so ago, she received a bill from the hospital for services rendered well over a year ago. She didn’t know whether this was a duplicate of a bill that had already been paid, or a new bill that the hospital had somehow forgotten to generate at the time of the service. Either, it smacks of incompetence on the part of the billing department.

She sent the bill on to the lawyer, and he said that would be the last we’d hear of it. Don’t exactly know what ended up happening, but he obviously convinced the hospital one way or another that my wife owed no more money.

Hardly. As I said at the time, I selected people based on the criteria that I found their contributions valuable and that their views did not match my own. Quite obviously, I believe that any consideration of “need” in such matters is Marxist hogwash.

One of my kids racked up medical bills totaling $740,000.00 during the first two years of his life. I had primary and secondary insurance which covered almost everything but about $15,000- which we didn’t actually know about because of the paperwork whirlwind we be buried in at the time. I could have wall papered my house two or three times with the amoung of paper sent from insurance companies and medical billing offices around town. In the end, not paying the $15,000 dollars was a better move for us. By the time the dust settled (approximately 3 years) and we were clear about or out-of-pocket costs, we were well into collections. Collections was delighted to offer us hefty discounts for cash payments and we only paid about a quarted of the $15,000 owed.

In my experience, there is no reason to rush to pay medical bills. It takes months for hospitals and doctors to bill and for insurance to pay. If they don’t mind the wait in dealing with each other, they shouldn’t mind waiting on me.

I, sadly, have to agree that medical billing offices are a mess and run by morons.

Look, I"m sorry- I swear, I put you in the hat every month!!

Where is this hospital that is illegally adding 20% onto billed charges, and have you reported them to the HealthCare Finance Administration? The HCFA would thereby charge the hospital with fraudulent billing, fine them, and you would be held harmless for any and ALL charges.

Did he have any x-rays while there? Labs? The hospital can only bill for certain things: room charges, supplies, meds, etc. They are unable to bill the insurance company for the reading of the x-ray or for the labs. This is not a “racket,” in fact the HCFA set it up so there would NOT be a racket. Each entity must, by law, bill separately. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass for you, but it was found to cut down on fraudulent billing.


Yup. Unfortunately, there are claims that fall through the crack. One of the ladies in our billing department was telling me about something she was working on that’s from 1992. It’s gone round and round with two insurances, who are both keeping the claims live. Why? Because the patient won’t call and tell them who the primary insurance is. We’re contracted with both, so we can’t bill the patient until it’s resolved.

Make sure you inform your insurance company, too, so they can refuse payment. Otherwise, you’ll get a bill from the facility, and when you call, they’ll probably say something embarrassingly stupid, like “But your insurance approved these charges!” :rolleyes:

BAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA. I’m sorry. I am not laughing at you. I am currently passing this in email around the office as “What not to do; can we please manage to not look this stupid to our patients.”

Again; are you sure it’s for the hospital? The hospital may have your info, while the lab, radiologist, anesthesiologist, etc, do NOT.

Yup. Just like in any other industry, it has its share of morons. But it sounds like you’ve hit the mother lode. If you’re interested, my email is listed. I’ll be happy to help you sort it out, or just give you tips on how to keep your sanity navigating our stupid-asssed system. If you’re just venting, you have my sympathy. I’m sorry you have had to deal with so much idiocy. Your husband’s health shouldn’t have to take a back seat to dealing with billing departments.