So I started having health issues about mid-year. Since then I’ve been dealing with doctors appointments, tests, and having to make payment arrangements to pay off said tests.
First I had to see an ENT over sinus and headache pain that I had been dealing with for weeks. $50 co-pay to see him. He gave me some medicine to take, and thought I might be actually having migraines. So he sent me to get a sinus x-ray to see if anything was going on. He suggested a walk-in place to get it done the same day. I already had to take the rest of the day off of work, so sure, worked for me.
I go there and they tell me how much it’ll cost. Okay, I could afford it and didn’t need to make a payment plan. So sure. Everyone was nice.
I returned to the ENT (another co-pay) a week later to get the results, which came back as normal or as the paperwork said, “Grossly unremarkable.” So the ENT said again he thought I was getting migraines, probably from exposure to a chemical smell that the janitors were using to clean with at work. So he suggested a neurologist who he had sent patients like me and they had all gotten better. Sounds great.
The neurologist was another $50 co-pay. He thought I was having abnormal migraines, but wanted to do a VNG due to dizzy spells I was getting. Fine, whatever, let’s schedule this.
I couldn’t eat anything before the test and it was scheduled for late morning so I was hungry. Another $50 co-pay and I did the test. And boy did it make the world spin for me. I got the worst case of motion sickness on the ride home. (My husband drove.) I spent the rest of the day in bed, being absolutely miserable.
And it was after that test that I got a call from the hospital whose facility I used to get the sinus x-rays done. It went something like this:
“I see you haven’t made a payment yet on your two hundred and (didn’t focus on the rest of the amount due to shock) bill and wondered if you needed help with payments?”
Me, “What bill?”
“The bill we sent out a month ago.”
Me, “I haven’t received a bill.”
“Well, our system automatically sent it out to you on (insert date).”
Me, “I’ve never received a bill.” Never mind I wasn’t told I owed extra when I was there getting the sinus x-rays. They said my insurance would pay for the rest of the amount due. WTF.
“Okay Ma’am. Well, I’m going to personally send you out another bill today,” note this was on a Tuesday around 3 PM. “If you don’t get it by the end of the week.. well, there’s something wrong with your postal service and you’re going to have to deal with that.”
Okay WTF again?! Did you seriously just say that to me? “How much was the amount again?” I wrote it down and wrote down his name and number.
“Will you pay this bill as soon as you get it?”
Okay, that tone and question weren’t necessary. “I’ll either pay it or make a payment plan.”
I hung up and memorized his number. No way in hell would I talk with him again. His tone changed when I said I didn’t receive a bill. I felt like he didn’t believe me. I checked with my insurance online to see my statements. Yup, I owed that amount. I called my insurance, they billed it to my deductible and will only pay part of the bill after I don’t have any deductible left. Grrrr.
I ended up getting the bill on Saturday. I looked at my budget, yup I’d have to make a payment plan. Fortunately they had a toll free number to dial so hopefully I could talk to someone else. I also noticed it said I paid with a Wells Fargo card, which I don’t have. Plus it listed my insurance as an HMO, not POS. But I was going to wait until I got paid to call them since I surmised any plan would involve immediate payment the day I called.
Cue next Tuesday and jackass calls me again. I let it go to voice mail. “I need to talk to you as soon as possible.” Oh bullshit. Even if I turned that bill around and mailed in a check they wouldn’t have got a payment by now. Yup, they would definitely wait until I was paid. I would fight and argue that I deserve a timely manner to pay a bill that I just received.
Then it was back to the neurologist for a follow-up. Yup co-pay again. The test was normal, but if I was having dizzy spells again I should get an MRI. I had one done about 5 years ago that was normal. Plus with all the doctors visits I was getting low on money. So I told him I couldn’t afford it at the moment, so let’s wait and see how I feel in a couple of months. Then I told him about the call I just posted about above. He reassured me the hospital’s billing department would work with me.
Ah hah. Ah hah hah haa. Riiight. Work with me. Not a chance.
I called when I got paid. They didn’t make the process easy as apparently they forgot to add a letter to my account number, yet another mistake on the bill they sent. I also went over the other mistakes on the bill, but they reassured me the info was correct on their end. Oookay. Whatever. I then told them I needed a payment plan. The only option they gave me was to split my bill into 3 monthly payments. No discussion of how much I can afford. No asking what would be reasonable for my income. Take it or leave it. Oh and yes the first payment goes into effect today.
Meanwhile, I had gone back to my old primary who had quit practicing medicine 5 years ago, but decided to go into practice again. Yay! She’s a great doctor. I was very happy. She decided to get some lab work done to test for vitamin deficiencies and my A1C.
Aand of course again, like the sinus x-rays, my insurance punted the cost of my labs to my deductible. Have I mentioned I still have like $281 left for this year in my deductible even after all of this? (And it’s going up next year.)
At least when I called the lab company they asked how much I could pay. Confused, due to how I was treated by the sinus x-ray people, I asked what they meant. So they said, how much can you afford? Seriously? Oh my God. Someone actually asking. So I said $50 a month.
I saw a cardiologist to rule out any issues with my heart in relation to my dizzy spells. Nope. Perfectly fine. I had seen a cardiologist for years, but had to switch since my current one was booked solid for months. I figured it was time I switched to someone in a different insurance network that cost me $35 to see instead of $50. She was nice. She talked with me and explained things better than ever before. So I lucked out on that end.
Then I saw a gastroenterologist (yup $50) since my IBS was acting up.
“Well, it certainly sounds like you probably have IBS. When was your last colonoscopy?”
Me, “That’s the one test I haven’t had.”
“Well let’s schedule you for a colonoscopy.”
“.. rule out this and this and this..”
Waiiit. Do you want to give me a colonoscopy just because? Not I suspect this so I need you to have one. Noo. Even though I suspect it’s IBS I want to rule out these few things just in case. Oh hell no. I already have two bills I’m paying on. A colonoscopy will give me at minimum one more (for anesthesiologist) or two if I need to pay the gastro doctor too. Screw that. He even called in the prescription for part of the prep before I was scheduled for the colonoscopy.
After I got home I talked with my husband and we agreed the answer was no. No more tests for the sake of running tests. And it was likely that the colonoscopy, like all of my other tests I’ve had over the years, would come back normal. So when they called to schedule it, I said no thanks. Then I got a nice legal notice in the mail saying that they’re not liable for any medical issues that I might have that are undiagnosed, etc etc etc.
Finally, it was one last follow-up with my neurologist who I just saw earlier this week. Thanks to taking Magnesium at night, my atypical migraines have reduced to only bothering me from less than one minute to less than three. (Granted I haven’t been exposed to strong chemical smells at work, like cleaning the carpets, in months. So that’s probably also part of it.) So no more appointments with him. Still one last $50 co-pay. Oh, and my appointment was for 3:40 pm and he saw me at 5:45 pm. Yup. He had been repeatedly late even when I had a morning appointment with one patient in front of me. (“The doctor isn’t in yet.”) And he asked why I passed up on the MRI even though we discussed why. And I haven’t been getting dizzy spells in a couple of months, so I’m no longer symptomatic. Sooo I don’t need the test anymore. Yeah if I have migraines again I’m seeing a new neurologist, hopefully someone in that other network that will cost me $35 to see.
And then last week I noticed something about my budget. Last month I called the hospital to make my 2nd payment for my sinus x-rays. That went through. Then a few days later on the due date, they billed me automatically again for the same amount. The bill they sent me in the mail said to call or mail in a payment. It never said they would automatically deduct on my payment date the amount I had due. I called their automated system and confirmed my balance is 0.00 and asked for a bill to be sent to me. So I got charged twice. Fine. That was my 2nd and 3rd payments. Sure I was nearly broke, but I had that vicious monkey off my back. Granted it stole my wallet in the process, but hey. One less stress, am I right?
Then today I get an email from them saying they will schedule a payment again for the same bill, that just got paid off. What?! The bill is paid off! Don’t charge me AGAIN for a bill that has a balance of 0.00.
So guess who’s getting a call on Monday? (And I’m still putting that payment into my budget since I don’t trust them to not screw this up.) If I can help it I will NEVER deal with that hospital or anyone associated with that hospital again. Their staff is wonderful. Their billing department needs serious help and I’m being kind when I say that.
Looking at my budget, in July when my illness wouldn’t go away and I started going to urgent care places and seeing doctors I spent over $100. August over $300. September over $200 again. And last month over $400. (And medical counts co-pays, medicine, the supplements I bought that I need to take, paying bills, etc.) It didn’t help I got 4 doctors bills that had to be paid on my last paycheck, two of those being because co-pay was incorrectly charged and I was being billed for the remainder. Then I got a fifth bill days later, again co-pay adjustment. So understandably this has been me for the past few months:
I have one appointment, on my birthday of all days, to see a registered dietitian. It was the earliest appointment they had. Then I’m scheduling my physical the beginning of next year. But after that, I hope to enjoy a long time without doctor appointments, and especially any specialist doctors that want to give me more tests. I am done with being the guinea pig, or cog wheel, of medicine. It’s great that we have all these tests available now, but they shouldn’t be used as a first resort when symptoms aren’t pointing towards a need to take these tests.