I received a bill in the mail today for an ER visit I made in JULY 2010. Are you kidding me? It's for $33.19.
Military insurance is strange. Maybe civilian insurance works this way, too, I don't know. When you are away from home and need medical care, you have to call the insurance company for "permission" to be treated and instructions on how to seek treatment in order to avoid being charged for seeking unauthorized treatment. I called the insurance company, got the approvals I needed, and double-confirmed. Since we technically were "in between homes", I even asked about that to make sure I was doing everything I needed to do.
I've been here before. Long story short, a doctor tried to bill me back in 1998 for a $25.00 co-pay that I didn't owe. After a year of calling Tricare, my insurance company, from Germany no less, to straighten it out, my sending a letter to the Rear Admiral of Tricare (at the time) and cc:ing the doctor's office and about 20 other people finally did the trick. All of a sudden the problem was mysteriously resolved and my slate was wiped clean, as it should have always been.
Will it take that again? If it does, I'm ready. These people don't know who they're dealing with. I invented "Bad Cop" and when I am sure that I am right, I will fight until the end of time for myself. It's how I roll.
So I call Tricare today. I start off on the defensive, because I have the evidence that I called back in July and followed all the rules. I say, "I did exactly what I was supposed to do. I don't owe this $33.19. How are you going to help me fix it?" Tricare says the hospital only billed them for xxxx, which clearly explains the $33.19. The rep and I both see it right away. Simple fix.
I see it plain as day. I call the hospital to explain that I don't owe this, and by the way (1) why is this bill NINE MONTHS after the date you treated me, and (2) you are not legally even allowed to bill me. (It's a Tricare thing, apparently.) All you have to do is re-bill my insurance and they will pay. Super easy.
Steve, the jerk at hospital billing says "Why should we re-bill them when we did it right the first time and they didn't pay?" Uhhh, jerk, obviously you didn't because TRICARE WILL PAY if you just re-bill. Idiot. He refuses to re-bill because the insurance will see it as a duplicate and reject it, and I'll still owe that $33.19.
Obviously he has not met me, so he doesn't understand that whether it was a dollar or a freaking million dollars, if I don't technically owe it to you, I will fight you FOR ETERNITY. Seriously, I already fought a similar fight and did not relent for a year. You will lose if you keep messing with me. Actually, you will eventually still lose either way because I don't freaking owe you a dime.
So I call Tricare back to find out what to do next. I don't want to be sent to collections for refusing to pay $33 that I am confident that I don't owe. THey say they are sending a letter to the hospital explaining that if they send an amended bill that Tricare will pay. The rep said she would cc: me on the letter. She says I don't owe, the letter will state that. She says that, yes, it is illegal to bill me, but many people choose not to fight and just pay the doctors to get it overwith. Doctors and hospitals know this, and I'm sure that insurance companies do, too. But most consumers don't.
Again, this lady hasn't met me either so she has no idea that I am in this to win. I explain my previous situation and she says it's no problem, it's not my worry anymore and they will get it worked out.
Of course, I know this means "Call the hospital back and tell them what Tricare has just told me, and make them flag my account so it doesn't go into "past due" mode while these 2 organizations blame each other." I also know it means my part in this fight is not over, despite what she says. I am involved until I see that letter and call the hospital (again) to make sure they re-bill the insurance company.
Don't mess with me when it comes to money. Especially money that I KNOW I don't owe you.
To Be Continued when I receive that ridiculous letter. Stay tuned...