For those that don’t know me on a personal level, I am married with 3 kids. My 7-year-old daughter put an abrupt end to end of summer beach and pool time when she broke her arm. She handled the entire emergency room visit and surgery like a trooper. As the middle child, I know she enjoyed all the extra attention.
My Medical Debt Story
Scripps Emergency was our first stop to confirm the break. They have a great crew on hand there. They went out of their way to find her a get-well teddy bear from the first paramedics that came in after her. After we confirmed the break, we were asked to take her to Rady Children’s Hospital. We checked her in through emergency and they scheduled her for surgery the following morning. She was discharged later that day with two pins in her arm and a cast from her wrist up to her shoulder. Four weeks later, the cast was finally removed. X-rays looked good and she was cleared to resume physical activities. So that’s two emergency rooms, radiology, surgery, and an overnight hospital stay.
Blue Shield of California sends out a very confusing Explanation of Benefits, clearly stating that this it is not a bill. It just lists out over several pages the medical benefit provided and the cost for that benefit. But it’s not a bill. But this is the first thing you should challenge to make sure you are being billed for services you actually received. Coding errors run rampant in medical billing. It would be easy just to assume these documents are accurate. I fell victim to what I suspect many others do. You don’t have time to deal with it. You just want to get the bill and be done with this whole mess. You accept the charge and sit and wait…for the bill…
Who do we owe and for what? We received multiple bills and each with different amounts. Sometimes we got bills with adjusted figures after insurance kicked in. Other times they were bills from entities we didn’t even recognize. So I started calling on each. The Rady Children’s Hospital bills were the easiest to deal with. They immediately offered several repayment options. But they couldn’t talk to me about the Rady Children’s Specialists. That’s a different department. Really? It’s all debt owed to Rady, but they are different departments? Whatever, I call the number they gave me and left a detailed voice mail as requested. It took several days, but I finally heard back from them a week later to discuss available repayment options. We agreed to terms that made it a little easier to manage. All in all, we were able to get the debts into repayment, but it wasn’t easy.
I spent about 4 hours on the phone reviewing the explanation of benefits, deciphering the various bills and talking to different representatives at Scripps and Rady Children’s Hospital. The reps were all very helpful once I got a live person on the line. But this was not an easy process. I do this for a living every day, negotiating balances down on unsecured debt. But this medical debt was one of the biggest pains to deal with. I can’t imagine the confusion someone must feel for something more complex than a broken arm. It seems that the medical billing system is set up to confuse people. I believe if I had challenged the Explanation of Benefits, I might have had a few items removed from the bill. But with my own busy schedule, I didn’t really have time to do that. It makes me think that we overpaid on this bill. I’m sure this happens to many others as well. My only hope is that if people get overwhelmed with their medical debt that they reach out for help. It sure isn’t fun to deal with this, especially if you’re a patient suffering from an illness or injury. If you need medical bill help, feel free to reach out to me via my contact form, I provide medical bill debt relief services in San Diego and surrounding areas and offer a FREE initial consultation.
Medical Bill Debt Help San Diego: Daniel R. Gamez, an attorney focusing exclusively in debt settlement, is licensed to practice in all state and federal courts in California and Texas. Mr. Gamez owns and operates the Gamez Law Firm in La Jolla, CA. For more information, please contact Daniel Gamez at 858-217-5051, [email protected] or visit gamezlawfirm.com.