Welcome back blog reader. In Part 1 of this series I explained the circumstances under which I went to the emergency room because of my migraine pain. In this post I’m going to explain what I did following the receipt of the $629 bill. Since this is a blog, there is a section below this post for your comments – I hope you’ll tell me what I could do better and what your experience(s) have been with ER billing!
Needless to say, I was in a mild state of shock. $629 for what!? I needed answers. I looked up the billing information for the CHI Health group of which the hospital I went to is a member. After navigating through the automated system, I was connected with a service rep named Benjamin. He was very polite and asked why I was calling and what he could do to help.
“You can,” I said, “explain why your ‘nonprofit’ organization wants to charge me $629 when I had nothing done.” I went on to explain everything I had covered in the previous post. I had no IVs, no medications, no scans. I simply asked what the treatment options were, and for that, I was being billed over six-hundred dollars. This, I claimed, was unacceptable.
Benjamin seemed very understanding and sympathetic. He informed me that there was a procedure he could initiate whereby CHI would perform a kind of self-audit of both the supposed charges against me and the reasons for those charges. This is called putting your account in dispute. More importantly, Benjamin told me that if I did not hear anything from CHI within 90 days that the charges would have been erased. He said that there was no need for me to contact CHI so long as I did not hear anything. This was sometime in November 2015.
December came and went, as did January, then February. I received not a letter from CHI, nor a phone call – both forms of contact they obviously had since they sent me a bill in the mail and had talked with me on the phone. Given that their service representative had told me that no contact mean that my bill had been erased, I happily assumed that the claim had be dropped. In fact, I went so far as to post a few videos on my YouTube channel explaining my ‘victory’.
I went on for months believing that my bill had been erased, and that I had won. But then, in December of 2016 – over a full year since my dispute had been started – I received a letter in the mail from a debt collector. The letter stated that CHI had put them in charge of collecting a $629 debt that I owed them. Below, you’ll see the uninformative bill that CHI sent me and why I would want an itemized bill. Information about what they are charging me for is, to put it mildly, sparse.
In the next post I will explain what I told the debt collector, what they recommended, and the hassle of attempting to get an itemized bill from CHI which would explain, dollar-by-dollar, how they arrived at the $629 amount. I hope you’ll leave a comment below to continue the conversation and so that I can learn from YOUR experiences!