That’s my conclusion after dealing with billing people (well, one particular one) in the last couple of years.
My clinic is a huge clinic. They have multiple people for every single position. Your nurse is not someone who would actually go over instructions with you about retrieval or transfer, because they have other nurses for it. You are assigned a billing person for the clinic who actually isn’t the one who would explain to you all the charges prior to the service. You have to schedule an appointment with a patient navigator, whatever that means. And after the charges have been paid for, if you have any questions, the billing person actually has to ask the central hospital billing department to send an itemized list because she has no access to it.
Every single time we are to pay for a new cycle, my assigned billing person would email me a letter detailing the fees associated with our cycle. Dare I say that she makes at least one error each time she sends me my fee schedule. So I always have to email back and forth with her until she gets everything right. And sometimes she does not return my email after multiple attempts. I have to call and wait and email again before she gets back to me. It has been the only frustrating experience working with my clinic.
Last week after my nurse scheduled an appointment for my ultrasound for Friday, Billing Person again sent me a letter with my fee schedule for the frozen donor egg cycle. I looked at the final amount and it wasn’t quite right. I discovered that 1) she added an extra fee for growing the embryos to blastocysts and 2) she didn’t take into account our remaining credit from our previous cycle. When the clinic changed the guarantee program for frozen egg cycle from two viable embryos to one blastocyst, I asked the donor coordinator and confirmed that the fees of $600 for the blastocyst culture will be included in the overall fees for the frozen donor egg cycle. That means that I will not have to pay extra. The donor coordinator sent a word document to support this change. So in order to get this straight, I had to take time from my busy work schedule, dig up the word document given to me by the donor coordinator, and attach it in an email as proof so that the Billing Person could reduce the total fees back to what I was told. I also asked her to credit us back over $500 that we had left from our previous cycle. This time she wrote me back quickly, within 20 minutes. However, she only removed the $600 for the blastocyst fees but not our credit. Upon seeing that, I had to write her one more time. Finally, she revised the letter the second time and got everything correct.
I know the total is not a huge amount, but in principle it is a very frustrating experience. You expect them to get it right, since it is their job to ask you for an accurate amount of money. However, it just seems that they don’t care. As a consumer, you have to be very careful when you read every single line and question why they are asking you for money for certain things. Self-education and self-advocacy are necessary, but sometimes I just want the experience of a bill that is free of errors so I don’t have to be so paranoid every single time.