Saturday, January 12, 2013

I'm Not Going to Stand Here While You Rationalize Yet Another Brush With Death

And just because I'm sure all the readers of this blog are eager to hear my medical updates, I thought I'd share this little story:

In August I went in for my thank-goodness-this-is-only-once-a-year physical. Being a female, my check-ups consist of female tests. You know what I'm talking about. Anyway, it was a very short, very easy doctors appointment. The only thing unexpected was the doctor sort of insisted I pee in a cup so they could test to see if I was pregnant.

Me: But I am pregnant.
Doctor: That's why I need you to take the test.
Me: But...I already know. I promise, I'm pregnant. I can throw up in front of you to prove it, if you want.
Doctor: Cup. Bathroom. Go.

So I did. Guess what? The test was positive! Wow! What a shock!

So when I got the bills I was suspicious. The appointment was scheduled as preventative care. I went for my one a year preventative care check-up. I was given a preventative care check-up, and two preventative care tests. This is important because once a year preventative care check-ups and preventative care tests are all covered one hundred percent by my insurance.

But the bill from the laboratory came back as three tests, not two. Two were covered by my insurance, one was not. The extra test was not, as I originally suspected, a pregnancy test. As it turns out, they didn't bill me for that test.

I called my insurance and asked why the extra test wasn't covered. The answer was it wasn't preventative. I asked what test was performed. After looking up the number, double checking, and asking a supervisor, the answer came back: it was a test for the Adenovirus. I had never heard of the Adenovirus before. Neither had the guy on the phone. Huh. Why they test me for a virus without asking me first? Am I a guenie pig? Has the CDC ordered everyone to take this test? Is this some horrible epidemic authorities are keeping mum about to the population doesn't panic? Is This the Zombie outbreak we've all been waiting for?

Naturally,  I Googled Adendovirus. I became even more confused. It's a kids disease? It's no big deal? I have no symptoms? I have no reason to have symptoms? What?

My next step was to call my doctor and ask why I was given a test I didn't ask for, without my knowledge, without informed consent, and without ever telling me it was done. She was even more confused. My medical records show no such test was ever requested or given.

Her conclusion was it was a mistake on the lab's part. I called the lab, told them it was a mistake, and they informed me that my doctor would have to call in and tell them it was a mistake. I called the doctor back, this time talking to "Pat" at the front desk. She asked that I bring in the bill so she could fax it over. I drove down there, handed her the bill, thanked her and left.

That was in October.  I kept getting bills. I kept calling Pat. I kept emailing pat. She kept saying she was taking care of it, and she would keep me updated.

The first of December I received a "PAST DUE LAST NOTICE" bill. I called the lab and explained the situation. Once again they said only the doctor could call in, and that they could not do anything to stop the bill from going to collections. I called the doctor, this time demanding to speak to the actual doctor, instead of Pat. I explained what was going on. She asked me to bring in that bill so they could take care of it. I drove down there, handed the doctor the bill and said "Please, PLEASE take care of this today."

Last week I got another bill. This time from collections. I was so angry. I took the bill down to the doctor's office, walked in, and told them I wasn't leaving until they cleared this up. They had five months. Ridiculous.

So a nurse called and was told it was my co payment. I'm afraid this is where I got a little forceful. "Have you not listened to anything I've said? That is not the the problem. The doctor knows the the problem, she confirmed it back in October. Call again."  But Pat came into work and took over. She insisted she had to call a specific rep, not just anyone at the lab. She called and left a message. I wouldn't leave until the situation was resolved, so we sat there. For  four hours. Finally Pat called back, and the rep answered the phone. I insisted on listening to the phone conversation. Because I seriously could not understand why she didn't do this five months ago.

The rep put a hold on the bill, and filled out the form to have the adenovirus test marked as a bogus charge. I was informed I would get a revised bill in thirty days.

Le't hope that revised bill is for zero dollars, since that is what it is supposed to be.

If it takes six months, four trips to the doctors, dozens of phone calls and emails, and a wasted morning sitting in a doctors office with a bored three year old to clear up the billing problems from a yearly physical I think I might switch to once a decade physicals.


  1. Ridiculous! Sounds like it's time for a new doctor, and a new lab, not a new physical schedule. Good for you for being stubborn enough to get it cleared up.

    My endocrinologist has a statement on his office wall that all labs are done at the Hospital Lab. I take the form and go to a lab of my own choice. When Arf had labs done a couple of months ago, he didn't know that and ended up with a bill over $1000 from the hospital lab. Ouch! And who knows if they actually did all the tests written down? How do we know?

  2. I knew because each test they perform (and bill you for) has a code. Your insurance can tell you what that code means.

  3. That's impressive.


If, in your comment, you do not use code names as I do in my blog, I will edit your comment before I post it.