Insurance companies really are as frustrating, maddening and annoying as everyone says they are.
And it’s not just that they constantly miss-bill things, make claims as complicated as possible, or make fighting a claim as impossible as losing those last 10 pounds.
It’s also all the little things they do that get under your skin and make you want to kill them.
Recently I got an incorrect bill for a doctor’s visit. My co-pays for doctor’s visits are supposed to be $30.
For the purpose of this story, we will set aside the fact that $30 co-pays for a doctor’s visit are way too high and add up way too quickly when you have a chronic condition.
This bill was for $56.70. I didn’t have any blood work done, random vaccine injections or even a random breast exam, so the extra $26.70 made no sense.
The office visit was to a new doctor at a new office though, so I started getting worried that he was out of network, even though I had called to check that before I started seeing him.
Then I started panicking that I was going to get a bill for $56.70 every single time I went to the new doctor. Suddenly a typical week for me, which usually means about three appointments, would jump from $90 to $170.10.
Seeing as how I’m sick and I’m trying to hold down a fulltime job, I did what anyone in this situation would do — I tossed the bill on the kitchen counter and hoped it would fix itself.
Then, a few days later, I got the related paperwork from my insurance company. It’s not quite a bill, but looks just enough like one to be super confusing. And it too said I was being charged $56.70 for the recent office visit.
So, I decided to be an adult and call the stupid insurance company.
The man on the phone started out as a reasonable person. I explained the situation, and before I could even finish my tale of woe, he agreed that I should have been charged $30. He immediately put me hold so that he could talk to someone in another department and have the claim reprocessed.
Then I waited. And waited. And waited a bit more. And then I played on Facebook, checked some emails and waited a little more, and then he came back on the phone to ask if I could wait just a few more minutes.
So, I waited some more.
And then, finally, he came back on the phone. And there I was on the other end of the line, naïvely expecting him to tell me that everything was fixed.
Alas, that was not the case.
Instead, he informed me that the billing department at my doctor’s office had coded the visit as being in a hospital rather than a doctor’s office. That’s why I was being charged $56.70 instead of $30 for an office visit.
Obviously, that made no sense to me.
So I explained to the man — who was starting to sound less and less reasonable — that I understood my new doctor was connected to a hospital, but my old doctor also was connected to a hospital and I never had this problem there. Plus, my doctor’s office was in an entirely separate building from the hospital. In fact, it wasn’t even on the same campus.
The insurance guy would not budge though. He just stuck to his story.
So I was like, “But sir, it clearly says on the billing paperwork that YOU sent me that my ‘procedure’ was an outpatient office visit. I don’t understand why I’m not being billed for an office visit.”
And he was all, “Well, your doctor’s office listed location code 2, which is for hospitals, and they should have listed a location code 3, which is for doctor’s offices.”
Then he explained that I should call the doctor and have them re-file the claim with the proper location code and that they should file all future claims with the proper location codes.
I tried to tell him that this should be a problem that the insurance company should be able to fix, but he just kept rambling about the location codes and hospitals.
At this point, I quit arguing with the unreasonable man and hung up the phone.
Then, I did what anybody would do if they were sick and trying to hold down a fulltime job — I threw the paperwork on the coffee table and hoped the problem would fix itself.
Crystal Lindell is journalist who lives in Byron, Illinois. She loves Taco Bell, Burn Notice reruns on Netflix and Snicker’s Bites. She also has been diagnosed with intercostal neuralgia, a painful disorder of the nerves running between her ribs.
Crystal writes about it on her blog, The Only Certainty is Bad Grammar.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.