I had surgery last month, and I received the billings for it. Different departments have their own billing system, which is confusing. I have four bills for four different departments within the same hospital. The bills are not yet due. Not one of them.
Imagine my surprise to answer the phone two or three days ago, and find an that it was an automated call. The hospital 'needed to speak with me about my open account.' I waited patiently, and pushing the appropriate buttons to be connected to the proper department. After waiting, I was told that they were experiencing a higher number of calls that usual, and the nice automated machine suggested that I leave a number where I could be reached, which I did.
Remember: these are not overdue. These bills are not yet even thirty days old.
The call was returned, but of course, it came in while I was at work. I came home from work to discover the call. They needed to speak with me about my account.
I called this morning and spoke with 'Melissa' who explained to me that I had multiple accounts open with the hospital. "Yes," I explained. "I know. I've got the bills in front of me now."
She wondered if I planned on paying these bills.
(WHAT????!!!!!!) Remember: these are not overdue bills. They have a due date on them, but they are not yet due. I was starting to become angry. "Yes. We will pay these bills. We always pay our bills."
She chirpily tells me that if I would like to pay these bills, right now, I could make that payment with her, FOR FREE.
"I wasn't aware that the hospital charged you for making a payment."
She is getting a little impatient. "I just said the payment was free."
"I heard you," I said. "But it would be free when I go down to make the payments next week. It's always free to make the payments."
She determined that I would not be making payment this day.
I remind you, once again, not one of these four bills are overdue. They are not even due. Not until next week.
After speaking with her, I called the hospital to complain about being dunned for payment for a bill not yet due. It was a courtesy call from an outside agency I am told. Just in case I need to set up payment arrangements.
The total amount of these not yet due bills is $450. I found the courtesy call very discourteous. I found it insulting, actually to be dunned for bills not yet due. If I need to set up payment arrangements, I would have responsibly contacted the hospital myself. If they had checked our records, they would have found all bills paid promptly and in full. There was no reason for this call.
The head of the department tells me that it was not rude, and that it how it is done. She herself gets those calls. As if that's supposed to make me feel better. "I don't know how much experience you have with our hospital..." she begins.
"I'm a cancer patient," I say. I do not say 'I have more experience with your hospital than I actually want, thank you.' It was on the tip of my tongue though. I tried hard to be polite.
She matter of factly tells me that it will be done like this. That's how they do it now. She tells me that actually the young girl was correct. They do charge late fees, so I could have avoided all of that by simply making the payment with her. FOR FREE. I tell her that she is comparing apples and oranges. The accounts are not overdue, therefore there will be no late fees, therefore payment is free. Just as it always is. She tells me that she's not sure what to tell me.
I tell her that Warren General Hospital has lost a client.
She says she's sorry that I feel that way.
She's not, not really. I can tell. But she said the words.
I hung up the phone.
Remember: the bills are not even due yet.