Thursday, April 21, 2005

Your Opinion...

...if you care to give it.

I have been doing battle with a local doctor's office since before the birth of my daughter, 17 months ago. They are billing me for a meeting I had with one of their doctors, to interview her as a possible care provider for my then, as yet, unborn daughter. I have tried repeatedly to call and clear things up, but have not been able to talk to a real person nor have any of my messages been returned. Though their posted billing office hours are M,T,Th,F: 9-3, my calls at every time of day have been either been answered with the excuses of "just stepped out for lunch" or "I'm sorry, they are unavailable, can I take a message?". For seventeen months this has gone on. I think that the amount that they are trying to bill me for is outrageous, and of course, our lovely insurance won't cover it. I just don't feel they are justified in billing me $135.00 for chatting with the doctor for five minutes, especially as I had been kept waiting for 80 minutes beforehand. She didn't even take my blood pressure! (which is probably a good thing)

So, I am sending them a letter. I hope that I can finally get things cleared up. But I thought I would post my letter, to ask anyone else if they had an opinion. Does it sound too snobby? Am I being overly dramatic? Here it is:

To Whom It May Concern,

I have repeatedly attempted to contact your office billing department over the last 17 months to clear up this matter. It seems that regardless of the time of day that I call, your billing department is "Out to Lunch" or "Unavailable". I am sending this letter as a last resort to finally get some closure for both of us.

Your office has been sending me a bill for a "Preventative Visit" with one Dr. Wallace, on the date of November 4, 2003. The resulting bill is in the amount of $135.00. At the time I was nine months pregnant and interviewing possible general care physicians for my unborn child. The meeting was not a check-up visit, and there was no exam. I already had both a general practitioner and an OB/GYN for myself , and I was not there as a patient. When I called to set up the meeting, I had asked the receptionist to set up a time slot for me to interview Dr. Wallace.

Imagine my surprise a few months later when I received a bill for a "Preventative Visit", which, of course, my insurance would not pay for as I already have a personal physician. This visit was only to ask Dr. Wallace questions about her background and experience, and judge how well we could work together for the health of my child. I'm not sure if it was a mis-scheduling of time or a misunderstanding of purpose, but I did not expect to be charged for the visit.

I would like to add that I was very impressed with Dr. Wallace herself, but that the general atmosphere of disorder and disarray in the office had definitely thrown up some red flags in my mind. The waiting room was dark and dirty, the bathrooms were unclean, and I had to clarify who I was and why I was there several times for the receptionist. Not to mention the fact that although I arrived 20 minutes early for my appointment, I was kept waiting for an hour past my scheduled time. At nine months of pregnancy, an hour and twenty minutes is no small amount of time to wait on uncomfortable chairs in a dirty, dark room with other patients coughing, sneezing, and smelling strongly of cigarette smoke. In fact, my waiting experience was so unpleasant and contrary to what I was expecting, that I was honestly planning on leaving if my name wasn't called in another 5 minutes. Oh, that I had!

So, I am stating, unequivocally, that I have no plans to pay this bill. There should have been no bill in the first place. If your office was more organized, this matter would have been cleared up months ago. Dr. Wallace was a pleasant, experienced woman who was recommended very highly to me, but the lack of service and general confusion of Dr. Oliverio's office prevented us from taking her on as my daughter's physician.

Shannon Foster


So? What do you think?

I would just like to add that we did try to use Dr. Wallace (she really was that good) once my daughter was born. Peanut was born jaundiced and had to have multiple billirubin tests done after leaving the hospital. I was in no condition to schedule these, so the task fell to my poor husband. He called their office, and tried to set up the tests, but they kept on insisting to know Peanuts name and account number. After trying to explain, MULTIPLE TIMES, that she was only born a few days before and wasn't registered in their system, my husband finally hung up in mid argument. This place was a real nightmare, and it really wasn't fair to Dr. Wallace, because she was great, but the newest member of the practice, so she had little say in what went on.

I'm really glad they were so horrible though, because Peanut's present doctor is a dream.


thicket dweller said...

Oh, MY! I would definitely NOT pay that amount and would fight it completely. Maybe your insurance company would go to bat for you if the letter doesn't work?

It's unbelievable what medical professionals (?) charge for their services. :-/

MamaGeph said...

That is absolutely outrageous! Stick to your guns for as long as it takes.

Would it make a difference if you went there in person? (Yeah, I know, like you have nothing better to do than wait in their crummy office again...) At least they couldn't ignore your physical presence.

What a buncha yahoos.

Katherine Alba said...

I'm shocked that you were so charged! The only thing I'd omit from the letter is the sentence, "Oh, that I had." After you talk about wanting to leave the office. Other than that sentence, the rest of your letter is very well and professionally put. Just make sure you send it certified, and perhaps send a copy to not just the doctor's office, but to Dr. Wallace and the head doctor of that office.

MegLogan said...

SHEESH... Dr's really get on my nerves. You tell them! You should not have to pay one red cent! Keep us posted. Btw the letter was fine! Not too nasty, just enough frustration to mean something without making you look like you've lost some marbles. professional. Great job!


Hannah Im said...

What! Outrageous and unfair. You did an excellent job with the letter. I might change the "Oh, that I had" part but it doesn't really matter. I don't know how they could argue with your reasoning.

Keep us posted. . .

Victoria said...

As a former physician, I must say that it is very unprofessional to charge for a "getting to know you" visit. If the physician does not want to provide these visits, she should refuse to schedule them. She certainly should not charge for them as no services were rendered.

I hope you get this resolved.