Rising Health Care Cost Inefficiency Example, my experience
A recent encounter with a Geisinger billing problem could certainly add to healthcare costs. Is this a "How To", sure How To cut some healthcare costs! What follows is a simple example of situation where health care costs could be reduced significantly. If this financial organization is consistently pursuing the billing process that it applied to my case, this organization is doing twice as much work as it needs to, to achieve the simple goal of collecting a bill efficiently and in a reasonably timely manner.
Recently, now being an uninsured person, I received my first medical billing from Geisinger's finance department. The subsequent follow-up that I was forced to pursue is documented below. This is an example of an over zealous accounts receivable department in the health care industry. I have no problem with the test that was administered the staff that administered the test, the testing facility which I assume was Geisinger Hospital itself. But I do have a problem with this billing process. Here is a link to Geisinger's mission statement and they did address Fiscal Responsibility. I wonder about the not for profit? Seems like hospitals close and research centers open. Plus there seems to be an vague internal insurance system. I have to look further.
The Quality Process
I have learned in the past that the most important step in improving quality is analyzing the process. Improving quality usually leads to a more satisfied customer, which leads to reduced costs to the customer, and to the organization as well, which therefore results in a more profitable organization. Everybody wins when quality is improved through process analysis and improvement. Responsible for the process is the management of the organization, reaching right to the directorship. Staff plays an important role and as far as I can tell in this case, the staff has already tried numerous times to improve the process and has failed.
The tests went fine!
I had my test on 11/13/03 everything went well and the results were returned in a reasonable time. My doctor's office called and said everything is fine, so all that is left is to pay the bill. That is where the fun begins. This was not a difficult problem for me to handle but it must be costing a lot of money because it probably is occurring for most customers who interact with this financial department.
The first bill arrives ( a little late? )
The bill for my test arrived on 12/03/2003. The bill states "Please pay the balance immediately". The statement date was 11/25/03, took a long time to get here? The payment due date was 12/7/03. I immediately noticed the bill did not itemize what it was for, it was just a bill for $56. I could send out bills for $56 with nothing itemized I wonder if anyone would pay them? I could be rich! So I tried to call the phone number on the bill 1-800-380-7716 and I got a menu system and no staff was available at this time and if I waited ten minutes they would take my phone number and get back to me. I did not wait ten minutes. I have done this before with other organizations, given my number after waiting on the phone a period time, and found I was rarely called back. This implies the staff is probably overloaded and in this case it is a problem that is organizationally self induced!
My payment will probably be late
So now it is 12/4/03 and the bill is due 12/7/03. I called 1-800-380-7716 the next day waited for two minutes and was connected to a very nice person. I do know this person's name but I am not going to reveal it. I told this person I would like to know exactly what the bill is for, nothing is itemized and I have other open billings from different parts of the Geisinger organization, and I want to be sure what this bill is for. She said "Is your bill green?". I said Yes. She says: They always do this, send out bills without itemizing what it was for! She says: We have complained about this repeatedly and they continue to do it. She then checked what the bill was for and it was for the test I had taken. I asked the support person is there anyone I can follow up with for a complaint regarding the billing and she said; "Sir the customers have complained, we have complained, and nothing gets done, there is no more I can offer".
Support Person Very Good, bill paid with credit card
As I said this support person was very nice and then offered to have me pay the bill on the phone. Bob says: "Wow I can do that?". She says yes sir! So on 12/4/2003 I paid the $56 bill with my Discover Card, finally done, and I even managed to beat the ridiculous 12/7/03 due date.
Surprise, my second bill
Well not quite: I receive another bill on 12/17/03. "Your account is past due, Please remit payment immediately". This statement was dated 12/11/03; again, took a long time to get here, post office must be slow! This statement is due by 12/23/03. Well now wait a second I cannot blame the postman the post mark is dated 12/15/03 and it is from nearby, about 100 miles from me.
Check out the post mark
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