The situation with medical care and the costs in the USA, is too large a problem for me to even have a desire to discuss here - just know it stinks and if you're a Brit' be glad for the NHS, however bad it gets!
But I thought I would share a recent shocking experience with a well known national blood testing Laboratory, I can't name them obviously!
Since last August I have had the same five blood tests run by them every month and the invoice (which I pay direct having no insurance cover) has always been $177. I went as usual in February, saw the same nurse (the only employee at this Lab') and had the blood drawn.
Two weeks later the invoice arrived for $391, which represented a 220% price increase in a month!! First of all it nearly gave me a coronary and then I thought this has to be a genuine error on their part. One of these tests had gone up by 347% in one month!
So I called their billing department and asked them. It was no mistake, they had a price increase on January 27 and therefore my invoice stood. I pointed out the nurse never advised me of the price increase, there were no signs visible about it and therefore I was not paying it. After conferring with a manager she said I should have been told, I said well I was not, she said then you need to take this up with that Lab' - effectively passing the buck nicely.
So I called the nurse, who I have got know well and explained the problem. She also did not know about any price increase and was in total shock at how much my invoice had increased! She called the billing department herself and was basically told you should know this, to which she replied well you haven't told me. She explained to them she does not collect money ever at the site and therefore has no idea on pricing. They said what you don't have a price list, you don't have signs about the increase up? She confirmed no and a price increase like this would put the already quiet Lab' out of business, with a cheaper hospital across the street!
So I then emailed in two complaints and threatened them with letters to the Better Business Bureau and our Congressman. Big surprise they had not replied after two weeks, despite stating you should hear back within 24 hours!
After 2 weeks, the nice nurse called me to see if I had it resolved and offered a solution. She had spoken to her Area Manager and he advised me to ask my Dr to get the tests billed direct to him as they would be less. So I called my Dr and they happily agreed to try this for me and I ignored the invoice.
Finally this week I got a response from my complaints saying the bill will not be reduced, but by now I had settled a much reduced bill at my Dr's office from them.
So now the shocking part.......
January invoice = $177
February invoice = $391
Same invoice but billed direct to my Dr = $83
This bill has been the talk of my Dr's office amongst his staff, despite dealing with medical costs all day, even they can't believe a Lab' can justify charging an uninsured patient $308 more!!
So lucky for me I got it resolved but it made me so mad I have reported the whole saga to the Better Business Bureau anyway. On the basis that patients should be advised of such a major price increase before the blood is drawn - we shall see!