The healthcare in this country, to put it nicely, needs improvement. I think we all agree. I remember a time when this was the best place in the world to visit a doctor or a hospital. My, how the times have changed. The government now controls healthcare, the doctors do not seem to care, and insurance rates are triple or more than they were just eight years ago.
If you follow my fiancee’s blog, then you know that last month we had a miscarriage. I use the term we, as many people do, but in fact it happened to her. She had to endure the physical pain and effects of such a horrible thing. Not me. However, we both had to endure the emotional sadness. Yes, it was a sad time. I chose not to write about that, although I did write about us the day after it happened–and how happy she makes me, and how I treasure our life together, and how she is my favorite everything.
The rest of this post is about the financial and customer service part of healthcare in this country. It will have a lack of emotion. If you want the emotional part, visit my fiancee’s page at www.doughmesstic.com. Believe me, I was very emotional about this…but I am over that. I am now outraged by the process of healthcare, medical billing, and the lack of service that we received.
Back to the topic at hand. Healthcare is a complete racket. It is the only business in the world that provides a service or product without explaining the costs beforehand–and we accept that. After you are “fixed,” they then charge whatever they want. I am currently looking at two bills, one is from Houston Northwest Medical Center, and one is from Giles Community Hospital. Susan went to Giles Hospital to confirm her pregnancy on 8/30/16; she was at six-weeks. I took her to Houston NW on 9/24/16.
Same exact services, look at the prices.
We arrived at Houston NW Medical Center on the evening of 9/24/16. We waited an hour before we were seen. After telling her height, weight, and reason for being there to at least five different people, (seriously, read the damn chart) they decided to do an ultrasound. I have never seen an ultrasound in real life. I have only seen what I see on TV, but I can’t imagine it being a whole lot different. After the ultrasound, we waited for TWO hours for a doctor to come tell us that there was no heartbeat. TWO hours. I would imagine that they can see this in real-time, so why the two hour wait? We were then dismissed. I felt like we were in junior high being held after class by our teacher for a talk. And now we can go. That’s it? Over $5,000 worth of charges for that? To tell us what we already knew. Ok, I could deal with that, I really could–if that had been the end of it. But it wasn’t. They sent us home with no explantation of what would happen next, no discussion of our options.
Two weeks later I had to rush her back to the ER…yes the exact same ER. Why? Because she was bleeding to near-death, so much in fact that they wanted to give her a transfusion. We have yet to receive the bill for this visit. But, they did the exact same things: lab services, ultrasound, ER…oh, and this time they decided they would need to do emergency D&C surgery to get rid of the…product is what they called it. Why wasn’t this done two weeks earlier? But we will be charged again, for these services, and more.
Imagine that you have a small leak under the sink. You call the plumber. He comes out, charges you $100 to show up. He looks under your sink, comes out, and says, “Yep, you had a leak. All fixed. That’ll be $500.” Two days later you come home and water is everywhere. Your floor is ruined, your lower kitchen cabinets are flooded. The source is the same place the plumber “fixed.” You call him back, he gladly returns. He charges you $100 to show up and this time, since the problem is bigger because he didn’t fix it correctly the first time, he has to charge you $2500. What would you do?
I am not sure what you would do, but I wrote a letter and am sending it with payment of $1. Below is a copy of said letter:
Houston Northwest Medical Center
Birmingham, AL 35283-0913
Dear Houston Northwest Medical Center:
Subject: Bill Received for Inadequate/Non-Existent Services
Patient Ref Number: 205757859
We arrived at your hospital, and I use that term loosely, on the evening of 9/24/2016. My fiancée was showing signs of a miscarriage at 10 weeks. Since none of the nurses or doctors could read any chart then, then I will assume that whoever is reading this letter will also not read the chart, so I will go into the details here.
She was bleeding heavily, and there was little to no doubt exactly what was happening. After waiting for an hour in the ER, she was finally seen. After a physical exam, she was then given an ultrasound exam. After this, we waited for TWO hours, yes, TWO hours, on an unsympathetic doctor to say, “There is no heart beat.” This was confirmed in a matter of seconds when looking at the ultrasound. Instead of telling us right away, and then going over our options, we were forced to sit there and wait…for what? This is all very unethical and shows signs of very poor customer service. However, this isn’t even the subject I wish to discuss.
After the horrible news, we were told to leave. That’s it? Nothing. No, discussion of our options: D & C surgery, medicine to aid the natural process, nothing. So we went home. And cried.
Two weeks later, Susan began bleeding very heavily to the point of near-death. I was out at the time and rushed home to find her ghost-white pale and unable to walk. I took her back to your hospital (HNW), where, after the same exact exams were re-administered from 9/24/16, the doctors gave her an emergency D&C surgery. Had your hospital and doctors did ANYTHING at all (like their job) on the first visit, then there would be no need for the second visit. We are disputing all charges as there was ZERO work done. However, there is an enclosed check for the amount of $1 to keep the account current.
I expect a response. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I wish for all correspondence to be in writing.
I want the world to see this. I want people to stand up for what is right and not be a victim to this type of over-billing. Yes, we both have insurance, and this is exactly why insurance premiums are so high. Hospitals and doctors charging for services NOT RENDERED. While we will protest and dispute these charges, our insurance will pay their share, because they do not know. And insurance premiums will continue to rise. It is time to hold doctors accountable for their jobs. I am sure there are great doctors out there, but the ones that we encountered at Houston Northwest Medical Center are horrible. It is time to make a stand against horrible doctors that simply want your money. I have no idea what will happen next, but I will keep you all informed. Every time they send a bill for these services, services that were unnecessarily duplicated because they failed to do their job, they will get to read another letter and deposit a check for $1.00.
Houston Northwest Medical Center is located at 710 Cypress Creek Parkway, Houston TX, 77090.