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No Treatment, But a $240 Medical Bill

Last November, my wife and I had to make a trip to the emergency room of a local hospital. I’d like to tell you about our experience there and what happened after they gave us a bill without delivering any service. This is exactly what happened to us as reported in yesterday’s (3/8/09) Watchdog column of the Hartford Courant written by George Gombossy.

On that evening of November 26th, 2008, my wife began to experience severe abdominal pain. As the pain went from bad to worse, she called her primary care physician who directed us to Manchester Memorial Hospital, a regional hospital in suburban Hartford.

We checked at the front desk around 6:30 PM after which they told us to have a seat. There were no seats. As time progressed, the pain increased. My wife is a strong woman. She has an autoimmune disorder. She often deals with pain and she can take it. This pain was something else however.

Then she began to throw up.  I checked and rechecked with the receptionist who just kept telling us to be seated. Finally, I did what any customer would do. I told my wife, “we’re leaving” and we did. We went home and I called 911.

A terrific EMT crew showed up and began treatment which was a good thing since an EKG uncovered that she had some symptoms of an irregular heartbeat presumably brought on by the whole episode. They took her to Bradley Memorial hospital where doctors determined that was most likely having an acute gall bladder attack.

All’s well that ends well, right? Not in this case. Instead of billing our insurance company, they billed us for $244.25. On January 3rd, we wrote to Peter Karl, the President of the hospital who passed my concern along to one of their Patient Care Providers. She wrote back to inform me that “unfortunately, the bill is correct”.

Our mission and that of VidaCura’s is to educate consumers. There just isn’t enough dialog. We want to encourage Americans to raise the noise level so that they can be heard above the voices of special interest groups. So we turned our story over to George Gombossy who writes the Watchdog column for the Hartford Courant and writes his own blog, “CTWATCHDOG Consumer Payback”.

In an email conversation between George and Dennis McConville, a Manchester Memorial hospital Vice President and spokesman, Mr. McConville confirmed that they bill was correct. He said that my wife had been seen by a registered nurse and had been registered in the system so that her care could be triaged given all the other patients being treated at that time.

So we got no help, no medicine, no relief, not even a chair. We did, however get a bill. And given two opportunities to correct their mistake, they concluded that they deserve the money.  What’s wrong with this picture?

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