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Health care reform: Tomball family suggestion

Alex poses with his twin sister Annie.  Alex's time in the ER sparks ideas for health care reform.
Alex poses with his twin sister Annie. Alex's time in the ER sparks ideas for health care reform.
B Trott

The practice of hospitals departmentalizing the services they offer and billing separately from each department is not exclusive to Houston, but handled in a like matter through-out the country. Thousands of hours are spent by insurance companies and medicaid processing these claims. It would seem thousands of dollars could be saved if hospitals sent only one bill for services provided on one day. Lower administrative costs spell lower premiums.

In August, 9 year old Alex from Tomball was referred to the ER by his pediatrician for a medical evaluation. A simple phone call from his physician's office to schedule an appointment for him could have saved him thousands of dollars. Instead, he waited a grueling 6 hours in the emergency room to have a blood test and a scan performed.

Three months later, his parents received a variety of bills for the twenty percent the health insurance company did not cover. Although Alex was brought to one place of service, over 5 different bills came in the mail. After spending time on the phone to verify each bill, Alex's parents budgeted and made payment arrangements only to receive a 6th bill in the mail 2 months later.

A customer orders food at a restaurant and expects to get one check for the meal and the service. Separate checks are not passed out from the hostess, the waitress, the dishwasher, and the cook. The mechanic who services a car remits a bill in a timely fashion; not three months down the road. Why can’t patrons of hospitals expect the same?

Alex's parents were young and sharp but still had difficulty determining if some of the bills they received were legitimate. How much more difficult would it be for his grandmother to determine if a bill was a fraud?

Texas could lead the nation in true reform by writing a simple law. If a patient receives health care under one roof, then they are entitled to one bill and to receive that bill in a timely fashion.

Tell your story: Leave a comment about the bills you received from a health care provider.


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