Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Some good news, for once...

I don't think I've blogged this yet, but Evan had some medical tests done recently (he's fine now) and the bills had started rolling in.

In addition to all the regular office fees for the many doctor's visits that we've already paid, we had the costs from his two procedures:

  • The surgery center cost $704.00. We were anticipating that and put it on a credit card (so it's paid, but not).
  • Then the surgeon's bill came... Seven-flipping-hundred dollars.
  • Next, we got the anesthesia bill, which was an additional four hundred and fifty-freakin-five dollars
I've done the math for you, so that's a total of $1859.00.  We got another bill for his second test, which was $135, so now we're up to $1994.00 (Evan was born in 1994.  Funny)

(You're keeping in mind that Darrell hasn't had much work, and we currently have no health insurance, right? Good. Because that's an important part of understanding this story.  Self-employed people have to buy private insurance, which is unholy-expensive.  It's one of the first things that has to go when it's time to start cutting the budget.)

Anyway, I was about to have a heart attack.  Ev's tests took all of 15 minutes each. He was in recovery trying to wake up longer than it took them to do the first test. The second test was basically like an x-ray.  Who knew the costs of two short tests would be almost two grand? I didn't.

I kept putting off calling these places to make payment arrangements because I was...  I don't know...  paralyzed with fear, I guess.  I was worrying they wouldn't be willing to set us up on a payment plan and would expect the balances in full.  So I let a month go by without calling.

Then... We got the big bill. The surgery center (which I thought we already "paid") sent us a bill saying we still owed an additional $2,112.00. I was completely blindsided and thought it must be some kind of mistake.  It had to be.  I was ready to run away from home, or at least buy a box of Calgon and pretend I'd run away, but obviously, I couldn't afford a box of Calgon.  Do they even still make Calgon?

That bill would put our total owed at $4106.00.  We don't have it.  There's just no way.  I knew I couldn't put off calling them all any longer.  Time to bite the bullet. I started with the biggest one first, and explained to the lady on the phone that we were led to believe we had paid the total cost of the procedure on that day so I feel the additional charge is a mistake, and my husband's out of work, and we have no insurance, etc., etc.  I was trying to make it clear that paying the bill in full is not an option, while still retaining a shred of dignity and not sounding too desperate (which, you know, I was).

She said, "I see here in the notes that we called your husband the day before (the test) to let him know that $704.00 would be due the day of the procedure. He was offered a self-pay discount if he would pay the amount in full. Apparently you all didn't want to do that?"


I said that, YES, we did want to do that, and thought we had. She kept trying to explain to me how and why we really did owe that much; how we must have misheard, or misunderstood, but we definitely did owe $2112.00. I finally gave up, accepted what she was saying- that we must have misunderstood, and asked her what we could work out as far as a monthly payment. My stomach was in knots.  I was silently crying, and may have even peed in my pants a tiny bit, getting ready for her to hit me with more bad news. She said I'd have to call another number for that. She didn't take care of payment installments in her office. Ooooh.kay.

So, I called the other number and gave the girl the same story all over again. She pulled up our information and said, "Um... Can i put you on hold for a minute? There are some conflicting notes here in your file.  I need to check something first before I can agree to a payment amount."  Okay.  And crap.

After being on hold for a few minutes, and really starting to sweat about how much they'll want us to pay each month to get this whopper paid off, she gets back on the line and says, "Would it be alright if I just call you back, hon? I'm gonna need to make some calls to figure this out." Okay. And crap.  I feel stupid to tell you I was too scared to ask her what the problem was.  I was literally sick to my stomach and didn't even think to ask her what she needed to "figure out."  So I just said "okay" and hung up to wait, like a big 'ol dufus.

My mind was racing.  I had myself so worked up, I honestly could have barfed.  I was thinking she'd call back and say something about how we actually owe three thousand dollars, instead of just two, or at the very least, she'd tell me monthly payments can't be arranged for this account.

I called the other two doctors offices while waiting for her to call me back. The surgeon's office ($700.00) discounted their bill down to $455.00 (yay!), and were willing to let me make monthly payments. The anesthesiologist ($455.00) wouldn't discount if we couldn't pay in full, but did say we could make payments, so... still good.  The smallest bill for $135 isn't all that scary.  We'll divide that one in half and be done with it.

Finally, the surgery center called back and the lady said that she was so sorry (ohcrapohcrapohcrap!), but... (insert drum roll)...

We do NOT owe $2112.00. It was charged to our account by mistake.  The $704 paid with credit the day of the test was the total amount due!  Turns out, I was right from the very beginning (In yo' FACE!)!

I guess I've gotten so accustomed to expecting financial disasters in this last year, that it didn't even occur to me I might get good news.  I let someone convince me I was wrong, when I knew I must have been right.  I put myself through all that worry and peed my pants for nothing.  So, to make a long story a little longer...  The amount which seemed so scary to me before ($1994.00), now feels like a blessing after going through all that worry.  God works in mysterious ways.

We now owe "only" $1749.00 (Darrell was born in 1749. Funny.), all of which can be paid off a little each month.  YAY!!!!

The lady from the surgery center asked me, "Would you like me to send you an updated statement, showing a zero balance?"

"Uh... (DUH) Yeeeesssss?  Please?!"  I'm going to frame that sucker.


mrsbroccoliguy said...

Oh my goodness, thank GOD for that second woman!! I swear, some people just refuse to consider the very idea they might be wrong... can you imagine if they hadn't fixed that?! Sheesh. And yay for the office that reduced your fee a bit and for installments. And wow doesn't it s*ck to have to pay so much for a short trip to the doctor? (I'm still flipping out over our $1000+ vet bills...)

metaphase said...

I know you must have been sick trying to figure all that out. I hate dealing with insurance/billing for medical stuff. It's always a hassle. I'm glad that lady had her brain in gear that day.

myminivanrocks said...

We negotiated medical bills last year and I was not above crying. Not silent crying. Real crying. And I made sure they heard me. :)

lookingforgeorge said...

So sorry you had to go through all of that, but that line about Darrell being born in 1749 made me laugh out loud. I even woke my husband up by laughing.

dabeesknees said...

Yay!! Finally a win! Oh, man...I feel your pain with the money situation (and the pee pants). LOL So glad you got it all straight.