All I have done for the last 6 years is pay off my breast cancer treatment bills from 2011.
Every month, without fail.
I did my radiation at Lankenau Hospital in suburban Philadelphia, PA. I did my radiation there because at the time my own hospital system (Penn) did not have a suburban radiation spot, and I wanted Dr. Marisa Weiss (Breastcancer.org) to be my radiation oncologist.
As I said in 2014 when they tried to sell off my remaining radiation bill to a bill collector, in spite of the payment arrangements we had made after they screwed up the first time (2012), if I had to do it all over again, as much as I love Dr. Marisa Weiss I would have chosen to go elsewhere because of their sucky business practices when it comes to patient billing.
To recap the past:
When I began as a patient 6 years ago (2011) I filled out reams of paperwork. Enough to have felled a small forest. And I kept asking for bills as week after week of radiation treatment went by. I was told not to worry I would get billed. Only I never got any bills. But I kept asking and they kept giving me the same answer.
More than a year later (of essentially asking for bills almost monthly) I find out because of my then postman that Lankenau/Main Line Health were mailing invoices to my dead father’s FORMER address. A property my parents had not owned in YEARS AND YEARS at that point, and I might add an address I never provided to them EVER because I wasn’t a patient before. I always use Penn Medicine.
My postman only saw the bill because he had been asked to cover that delivery route one random day. I still remember when he knocked on my door the next day and handed me this bill with a nasty letter from Main Line Health – you know like it was my fault they chose an address that wasn’t mine and somehow were unable to return a phone call or call me at all over the bill?
So I called and I went through rigmarole and finally ended up on a payment plan. I was paying Lankenau monthly until April 25, 2014 when my invoices stopped coming.
I made two attempts by telephone to get my invoices straightened out at that point, but stopped because I was recovering from another surgery.
During my recovery from a more major surgery (full hysterectomy ) a bill collector contacted me. Main Line Health decided to sell my remaining bill off for collection even though I was paying monthly and had reached out to say “where are my monthly invoices?”
Since that point in 2014, I have continued to pay my bill monthly. And this morning, ironically, I had mailed my final payment, because the balance had gotten small enough (finally) to manage a pay off.
I was so psyched, until I got home…when I got home there was an impersonal dear occupant letter from Main Line Health billing that was unsigned and not personalized in any way (not even the date it was sent) demanding I fill out more paperwork. On the same bill I have been paying religiously for now so many freaking years.
They were getting ready to change the game again. What if I had not saved up to pay off the balance? I would have been back in the fray with Main Line Health billing again. Over the same god damned bill. If I had shirked my responsibilities, I would say they had a right. But I didn’t shirk anything.
This is what gets to me about healthcare. You pay and pay and pay and you are always at the mercy of either health insurance companies, stupid politicians whose benefits WE pay for as taxpayers, or inept hospital system billing offices. And trust me, none of those aforementioned parties give a rat’s fanny about the stress that causes patients and families. Yet another reason why I say I would not wish cancer or cancer treatment on my worst enemy.
But today I finally freed myself from the shackles of Main Line Health debt. Breast cancer is so damn expensive. God bless my doctors and nurses. Can’t say I feel the same for the billing departments.