By Consumers For Quality Care, on November 17, 2020
NPR reports on the experience of Tiffany Qiu, a California mother of two who wouldn’t take no for an answer after getting billed more than she was promised.
After Qiu was promised that her coinsurance payment would be only 20% of the cost of an outpatient procedure, she ended up getting charged 30% of a $22,219.64 bill – which didn’t include anesthesia or doctor’s services. She fought back and won.
The experience left her feeling as if the hospital offered her a fake discount to reel in her business. “I double-checked and tripled-checked with them,” Qiu said. “They have financial departments that should be verifying this with my insurance company.”
Though Qiu could afford the bill, she refused to pay it out of principle. It ended up at a collection agency.
A spokesperson for the hospital pointed out a few mistakes that the hospital made. For one, staff members are not authorized to offer discounts. Qiu was also sent to the collection agency because staff did not follow the standard procedure for customer complaints after she made a follow up phone call to the hospital.
The takeaway: Multiple medical billing advocates who reviewed Qiu’s case praised her for her tenacity in calling the hospital financial department twice before the procedure. But as she acknowledged, most people don’t have the time or spine to fight.
Experts advise patients to confirm with their insurer when any discounts are offered. If patients hear conflicting information, they should confirm their own policy with their insurer before moving forward with the procedure. A misinformed patient is not a legal reason to lower someone’s bill.
Lastly, a patient should get any promises put in writing before the procedure is performed. Make sure it is as explicit as possible.