hospital hallway

We’re always interested in what is going on in the billing office, as our readers know. Here’s one story, about a photographer whose lung collapsed (twice) and another about a big hospital that responded to a reader’s complaint. Here’s a new one.

“I was going to tell you about the billing center at [The Big Hospital],” a friend said the other day, explaining that she is uninsured and drawing unemployment. “It fascinated me. …

“I lived in Spain and Costa Rica, and I am fluent in Spanish. Most of the clients were Latina women on the line, and they were helping each other.

“All these women, it was like a little community: they all knew what to do, what line to get in, what paperwork to fill out, and what to say. Apparently they did this regularly. It was like a support network right there.

“Fortunately I speak Spanish, which was really helpful.

“They were telling each other: ‘When you get the bill, go to the woman and say “I don’t have that much in my account” and they make you pay $15.’

“Knowing what to say, and how to approach it, I owe it entirely to those women.

“My bill was $1,200. I went into the billing office and said the right words, I guess, and got it down to $20.

“I also went to the Medicaid office there. I got denied for Medicaid because I’m making too much on unemmployment, which fascinates me. I can’t imagine that they don’t match up the thresholds.

“But what was interesting: the people in the Medicaid office were phenomenal. I listened in … a woman next to the woman who was doing my intake was being trained.

“She asked ‘what do I do with people who are undocumented?’ and her boss said to her in the most positive, loving voice, ‘Those are exactly the ones we want to help.’ “

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Do you have a story about a billing office? Email: info [at] clearhealthcosts [dot] com.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...