I just spoke with Scott a Supervisor at Lankenau, who was at least honest with me on he had no idea how this happened. He says he will pull the bill back from collection and put me on a payment plan. I did ask him why they did not go back to where I was being treated to try to figure out why my mail was undeliverable. (I mean other than the duh that I haven’t lived there in years and wouldn’t give it as an address?) So we’ll see. I told him I was a blogger and I had written about this.
But to me, mistakes like this are inexcusable. Why ask us as patients to fill out reams and reams of paperwork if you aren’t going to enter the data collected into the system? Of course this makes me wonder in retrospect if the hospital was even aware of medicine and food allergies I had while being treated, let alone what medications I was on.
This crap leaves me exhausted.
UPDATE: Lankenau Hospital is going to make me tear my hair out in frustration. I called this morning to speak to the billing office. They had been sending bills to my parents’ former address. (We all know I am well above the age of majority and oh yes, my parents sold that property they were mailing my hospital bills to circa 1999.)
I was so pissed I did not even notice the address thing until this morning. It is just a FLUKE one reached me.
I am not a normal patient of this hospital system and never before had medical doctors treat me in this system. So how they got this address combined with a phone number no one in my family ever had escapes me. When I became a patient for my cancer treatment I filled out pages and pages and pages of new patient paperwork with all the correct information. I did not have a back to the future moment and fill anything out with addresses of my childhood.
So the first billing office woman at Lankenau I spoke to was named Roslyn. In an “oh by the way” moment I discovered that the bill was not $400 but a total of three bills amounting to $1850! “Send me one bill and a payment plan” I asked. “I don’t think we can do that” she replied. I told her if they wanted to get paid they would figure it out. Then I told her to pull my account back from Financial Recoveries in NJ, the bill collector. “Oh they work for us. They won’t do anything.” (Yeah, right) I then asked her why if bills weren’t getting paid and mail was getting returned WHY they did not go back as a best practice to the area of the hospital treating me to see if they had better intel on a patient. There was no response to that. This was half an hour on the phone excluding unhelpful hold and other time.
So next I call Financial Recoveries in Mt. Laurel, NJ. I speak to a woman named Nicole who laughs when I told her the woman from Lankenau’s billing office said they won’t do anything and that they work for them. She tells me that Lankenau has been sending them bills for collection since I was an active patient. And oh yes, as I suspected, LANKENAU needs to pull back the debt to get me off the debt collector list I did not belong on in the first place!
After 20 minutes on the phone with Financial Recoveries I call Dr. Weiss’s office. Asked them what address they have for me. They also have my parents’ old address. I ask them how that is possible since I filled out reams of new patient paperwork, they saw I.D. with my address on it, and oh yes, I had paid for office visits not treatment with my correct address so how did the freaking business office screw this up? They did not have an answer, but they helped me update their records. That was about 15 or 20 minutes.
Then I had to call back Lankenau’s billing office. This time I spoke with a woman named Karen. I told her up front I was white-hot pissed off. So I told her the whole thing and she tells me about all the bills getting returned – a lot of them while I was an active patient. O.k. so I still don’t get why they did not ask the part of the hospital treating me to check me for an updated address. I told her I wanted the bill pulled back from collection and they had to do it to make it happen even if Roslyn said they wouldn’t do anything. I also told her I wanted one bill and information for a payment plan. She said she was sending it to a supervisor. So we’ll see.
I will not pay one red cent until I get everything I need. There is no reason I should have gone through this.
I am about to test the reach and effect of this blog. And I will warn you that as I type this post I am white-hot with anger.
I was very proud that I made it through a round of breast cancer without landing ass deep in debt. I went through all of this as you all well know working a highly stressed job that offered zero benefits, nor vacation, sick, or PTO days. I am self-pay on insurance.
I was proud that I was able to meet my financial obligation to the medical industry (well it is an industry). The costs as any survivor knows, were significant.
A few weeks ago I thought I had cleared all outstanding debt. Apparently I did not take into account costs that I was supposed to divine psychically.
I came home today to a debt collection notice from Financial Recoveries at a P.O. Box in Mt. Laurel, NJ on behalf of Lankenau Hospital where I received seven weeks of radiation under the care of the world renown Dr. Marisa Weiss.
Now the bill is not THAT huge, although I will have to go on a payment plan if it is actually due to them. It is $400.00. From an invoice dated 9/1/2011.
But that is NOT the point. The point is that LANKENAU HOSPITAL NEVER SENT ME A GOD DAMNED BILL.
So Lankenau Hospital, this post is for you. Obviously Lankenau has my address because this collection agency sent me a bill. But Lankenau never billed me. Lankenau never even called me to say I had an outstanding invoice. So I suggest they get their billing office to send me a detailed invoice and how to get on a payment plan.
I did not shirk my financial responsibility, Lankenau as a hospital system did. Lankenau shirked their responsibility to me as a consumer and a patient. And now they are attempting to mess with my good name and credit rating because of their clerical and billing error. I worked HARD for that good credit and no one, no breast cancer, no hospital system is going to mess with that.
I am putting Lankenau Hospital on notice to apologize and make this right. If they do not I will use all recourse available to me to fight them. Including blogging the heck out of this issue.
How DARE Lankenau do this to me and ramp up my stress levels I am trying damn hard to manage.
Lankenau got miles of good press when I wrote an article and was featured in a local paper during breast cancer awareness month.
Good publicity works both ways. I gave and now, I taketh away.
Shame on Lankenau for using debt collection as a way to rectify their screw-ups. Truthfully, Lankenau messed up and they should eat this, although I do not know that will happen.
We, as Americans, pay through the nose for healthcare. Time and again we see the flaws in the system. This is another one. These flaws cost us as Americans undue stress and pain. This is yet another reason why we need healthcare reform.
I’m pissed. I am going to post this, land it on Twitter and your Facebook page. And that is just for starters.
I am a survivor, don’t screw with me.