Tuesday night a good example of my new positive attitude.
I’m the type of person who has ALWAYS paid their bills on-time. I always pay early, just so I can get it off my mind. And I tend to know what debts I have outstanding or what’s on tap to hit my wallet over the next few months. That’s why a phone call caught me off guard.
Shortly after getting home from work, I got a call on the home phone. It was a guy from an orthopedic shop that supplied my back brace for my herniated disks last December. He said he was the last person before it goes to collections.
The $405 Corset
As some background, I’ve never received a direct bill from this provider. I saw that on my medical plan’s statement of benefits back in January that they had billed them $405 for the back brace! It’s basically the same corset you can buy at Walmart, but with some extra support rods. I’d say it was worth maybe $30 tops.
What was worse was that my insurance only covered 80%. In the end, after the negotiated rate, etc., I owed $125. I was mad because the orthopedic surgeon basically brought in the corset, fitted it on me and sent me home without even checking if my insurance covered it. And because of that situation, I filed an appeal with my insurance company.
I wrote to them, explaining that I was unaware that the back brace was not being provided by the doctor, but rather by a third party, and that the doctor (who IS part of their network) did not inform me of the fact. I asked that the back brace be covered as in-network.
I got a letter in February from my insurance company stating that they accepted the appeal and would cover the brace 100% (i.e. it would be in-network for this occurence). Whew! So I figured the insurance would cover it and let it go at that.
The Bill Collector
So when the bill collector informed me that I owed them $125, and my account would be sent to collections, one of the first things out of my mouth was:
“You better not F*** up my credit score!”
Yeah, not one of my shining moments, and now I owe the swear jar $5. Dang!
But I was livid. How could it have gone 11 months (since December) without even getting a bill and then it’s one step from collections??? Who made a mistake?
So I went through my files and asked him to call me back. I think he was nervous and thought I would start ignoring his calls (he’s probably used to that), but I assured him I had a bunch of papers to look through and I was using up cellphone minutes (which I was). I found all the paperwork, including the letter from my insurance stating it was covered fully now.
While I waited, I called up my insurance company, got through to a helpful CR and found out that sure enough, their system said it’s covered 100%. However, there was no record of payment. She said she would escalate the issue to the appeals manager to rectify the payment issue and it would be handled within 7 days. So, it was the insurance company’s fault.
I called the bill collector back (he called while I was on the phone) and informed him of what happened. We agreed to speak again in 9 days (7 business days) to see if it was resolved. I told him I was worried that he would jump the gun and send it to collections before it had enough time to be resolved, but he assured me that he would give it adequate time “as long as we maintained contact with each other”.
I’m still really ticked that I’m being treated like a common vagrant simply because their billing office couldn’t send a reminder bill, much less an initial bill. I can understand that they just know they weren’t paid, but when the payor isn’t even aware of his debt for 11 months (or 9 months after it should have been discharged), how is he supposed to pay?
So the lesson learned here is don’t trust that other people are looking out for your interests. Follow up on everything until it is resolved, or else risk your bill going to collections without adequate time to work it out.
See, I can still be positive because I know I can always learn from mistakes 🙂