Jan 2, 2008

Health Insurance Hell -- And I thought this part of the saga was over!

In 2006, I was covered under COBRA. My father was paying the bills to help me get started out after college, and he paid those bills on time until I got my first full-time job with health benefits.

During the time I had COBRA through Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, I went to see a gynecologist for a standard yearly exam. She had me get bloodwork done at the local lab. I filled out all the appropriate paperwork and thought I'd owe a small co-pay and that would be the end of it.

Two years later, I'm still dealing with this never-ending drama of trying to get health insurance to pay this bill. There is absolutely no logical reason why they should not pay the full amount (minus a co-pay), but I've been harassed by J & L Teamworks (a collection agency) on and off since my appointment, saying I owe about $1000. What???

Finally, after speaking on the phone to about 20 billion people, I thought I had everything settled in November. I wanted to be done with the mess for good, so I walked into the billing office of Mills Peninsula Hospital, where the lab services were done and apparently where the gynecologist bills her visits through if they haven't been paid on time (they weren't paid on time because they billed the wrong insurance and/or because my address (which I updated on my account by sending in a hand-written letter as requested) was added to my account incorrectly.) I'm still unclear what actually happened. All I know is I started getting calls from the collection agency, and they've barely stopped since.

In Nov of 07, I really thought the saga was over. I fixed my address on my account, I walked into the hospital's billing office and spoke with a nice woman who promised me that everything would be fixed. She even called the collection agency while I was there and said they won't be bothering me again... that they have to wait 30 days before legally being able to call me, and by then everything should be processed.

Fast forward those 30 days and without fail, those calls started up again. I didn't want to deal with it. I was hoping it would all clear if I just ignored it. Of course, that never works.

So today I called J & L Teamworks. They told me that insurance paid for about $200 of the entire bill, but I still owe something like $700.

That doesn't make any sense! If insurance paid for any of it, why are they only paying $200? I would understand if this was one of my newer insurances, but this was full COBRA of the policy I had since I was a kid. They couldn't even knock me for pre-existing conditions, had this been something that they might have got out of paying that way. But this was for a routine gynecological exam and bloodwork. I was on a PPO. My father paid something like $230 a month to keep me on it. I know I was covered. And that bill should be paid.

Of course since I live on the West Coast now and all of my records are back East, I have to deal with the time difference when calling. So it's too late to give a call to Highmark today. I'll have to call first thing in the morning and find out why the fuck this didn't get paid.

What really pisses me off is that I've racked up about $200 in interest on these bills... part of it is my fault because I did at times want to just ignore it because I knew insurance should cover the bill... but othertimes I was told by different people that it was all taken care of, then a month would go by, or two months, and then I'd find out it hadn't processed. Or it only partially processed.

All of my trouble with health insurance makes me kind of glad that I'm finally on a high deductible plan. It's nice to have the safety net (costing $1350 a year) in case I get into a major accident or something, but otherwise I'll just pay for everything that I need to do out of my pocket. I'm a little worried about how expensive that will all be... but I figure if I check out the services offered by Planned Parenthood, I might be able to get by without spending gobs of money, and without having to deal with any more bs-talking health insurance agents and collection agencies!


SavingDiva said...

I'm sorry to hear about this frustrating health care problem! I wish I could do something to help...but I don't have any advice...

Anonymous said...

I've had frustrating dealings with HMOs over the years (once with CIGNA and once with Blue Cross). Many years ago, my HR dept had to step in. However, recently I was able to resolve the billing in my favor thanks to great advice on the web. I found tips and letter templates that helped me write a more effective complaint letter and played by their rules. Best of luck to you.

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