Bills, Insurance, and a Reprieve

More adventures in medical billing: it turns out that even though the latest anesthesiologist’s bill I received says “payment due upon receipt,” and says that their credit policy is “Bills are due and payable when rendered,” you actually can call and set up an installment plan.  While I’m much relieved, it does leave a bad taste in my mouth that they don’t write that on the bill.  To their credit, Detroit Receiving Hospital does put all the payment options there on the bill, so when you get it you don’t freak out completely like I did when I got the anesthesiologist’s.

I called the hospital to see if I could at least get a list of who to expect bills from.  I was told to call Billing, which was wrong, because they only do the billing for the Hospital, not the doctors.  But the billing woman told me I would have to request my medical records to see all the doctors that have worked on me. She gave me the number for one of the doctors’ billing agencies, but that number turned out to be disconnected.  When I go to the clinic next week I’ll try and see what I can find out about getting my records.

I am, at the moment, the most at ease I’ve been since the accident, because I got some very good news.  At the hospital, I was told I might qualify for uncompensated care, since I was in that situation of having too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to pay for surgery.  In the course of trying to get answers about who exactly was billing me, I was told that the hospital did indeed cover my surgery itself.  I am so thankful to Detroit Receiving Hospital.  I don’t usually feel comfortable saying stuff like this out loud, but Thank God and St. Therese! And of course, the DRH. I have been crying so much for these past weeks, thinking I was bringing about my family’s ruin, after my mother worked so hard to get us out of poverty.  But I’m still worried, because I still don’t know how many doctors’ and anesthesiologists’ bills I’m going to get, not only from the surgery, but from visits to the clinic, and I may need physical therapy.  If one anesthesiologist costs $1300, how much will the surgeon?

This week’s cover story on the Metro Times was “The Young and Uninsured.” One of the key points in the article is that the jobs young people get these days don’t come with benefits, so a quarter of the uninsured are people aged 19 – 29.  It was interesting to read the stories of the young people they highlighted.  I kinda did a self-pity laugh when one of them said he stopped biking because it was dangerous.  Though now I feel a bit guilty because, if I understood it correctly, the article says that when hospitals have to give uncompensated care to people who can’t pay, it drives the premiums and co-pays of the insured up.  If that’s the case, we might as well pay more in taxes so that everyone has coverage.  Why can’t we have a health care system that’s about taking care of people, rather than making a profit (and an obscene one at that)?  Making profits on products and services that are not essential to life is okay, but things like education and health care should not be about profits. Insurance companies that don’t want to pay out when their customers need the coverage they have been paying for are especially undeserving.

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