I Have Been Writing Off People's Medical Bills for Over a Decade

2021.11.30 09:54 Potential_Twist1809 I Have Been Writing Off People's Medical Bills for Over a Decade

Like the title says. I work for one of the largest medical billing companies in the US, if not the biggest and most profitable. We do all manner of billing, from anesthesia to radiology to emergency room. My company is massively profitable. I don't have any figures in front of me, but its steamrolled other billing companies and consolidated them all over the years. We are owned by a massive global investment firm. It's corporate greed epitomized. And so I have been helping people out by adjusting their bills to zero and by slacking as much as possible while I do it.
Maybe an explanation into how a company like mine works would clarify things for us all. We charge massively overinflated amounts for our services, mostly because the majority of our patients have Medicare, Medicaid, or other large insurances that we have contracted agreements with. Let's say you go to the medical provider and we bill your insurance $100. We have an agreement with your insurance to adjust off 80% of that and just bill you $20. That's what happens with approximately 95% of the dates of service in my company. We bill an insurance or a patient, they pay, or the patient doesn't pay and it goes to collections.
I deal with the other 5%, the people who can't or don't want to pay their bills. After all this time my ear is highly attuned to the nuance of human emotion. I can figure out how to solve patient issues very easily, almost on autopilot as I play on my phone or whatever. Its fairly easy for me to read somebody and then execute whatever I need to do to resolve their problem. People essentially only call in for a handful of reasons, all of which boil down to the opening sentence of this paragraph: they can't or won't pay their medical bills.
I will admit that I take verbal abuse on the daily, but I don't even really hear that anymore. There will always be people who won't pay their bills for whatever reason. In this case, I don't blame them. Because if you don't have insurance, or if you're like me and are essentially the working poor, you pay for insurance just so you don't die in the gutter somewhere. People with no savings and high deductible plans will get hit with a medical emergency and owe thousands out of pocket. Literally. Between ambulance, the doctors, radiology, laboratory work, and so forth, an eighteen hour stay in a hospital can cost upwards of $18,000. And that's where I come in.
It's my job to collect this money. I have a much more genteel sounding title, and we have a glaringly cheesy mission statement to go by, but at the end of the day I am viewed as some kind of disposable but highly trained and efficient harvesting nanobot. I am given a lot of leeway, though, because my company, as vast and vampiric as it is, is also a shits show. They could be truly be rolling in revenue if they wanted to, if the higher ups and executives gave a damn. But since we rake the most exploited and poor people in this country over the coals I am very glad that its so poorly run. And I unashamedly take advantage of this.
I have talked with everyone in this country, it feels like. I've talked to rich old retiree lawyers and doctors who bask in the sun all day in Florida. I've talked to dirt poor white folk from the Midwest. I've talked to black people who hold philosophy degrees and work at Sizzler, I've talked to Latino gangbangers and Asians fresh off the boat. Jewish New York housewives who haven't worked a day in their lives. World War II veterans. Hippies who aged out but still hold those ideals and have wished me peace and love with the most sincerest tone I have ever heard anyone use. Junkies, racists of all sorts, sinners and more than a few saints. That's the good thing about this job, you get to hear all kinds of accents and talk to people from all walks of life.
One thing holds true across the board with anyone, though, and its that poor people pay their bills. rich people don't. I've been called nine, ten , eleven times in one day by rich patients who don't want to pay their $86 bill, or because the refund check for less than what I make in an hour is a day late being received. Rich people are unconscionable ball breakers and they're extremely cheap. I've been stalked and called at home by rich patients. One patient who was an attorney tracked down the provider who had treated him at their home, called them, and then called the vice president of my company at his home and called his wife a cunt. Rich people pull strings and get their bills adjusted because they're golfing buddies with the doctor who treated them. It's sickening. Nothing gives me the horrors like handling a call and hearing a rich, educated accent on the other end of the telephone, nothing.
On the other hand, I can't count how many times I've had to rely on Google Translate to talk to a poor person who doesn't speak English well because they want to pay their bill. Poor people need a little help and then they're your friends for life once you give it to them. They pay like clockwork. Grown men breaking down in tears because they've buried their families or they got hurt at work and the endless bills are drowning them. I've had patients threaten to kill themselves, and when I asked my higher ups how to help them I was told not to get involved for legal reasons. I tried to help on my own only once, when this gentleman in Florida told me that after the death of his daughter that he was going to kill himself. I called the police anonymously in the town he was at and he ended up getting arrested, but it ended up being just what he needed, because they helped him before the threw his ass in jail. I know this because part of my job is tracking people down to pay their bills, and so I was able to piece together what happened to him after our call. I have a million stories like this, and it all boils down to one thing: despite their being exploited by my company and so many others, poor people aren't trying to cheat anybody.
Poor people are like that, they're passionate, hard working, and they're sick and tired of getting fucked over by the system. I have been talking to the same kind of poor people for years, because I want to write off their balances eventually. If corporate got involved with these people they'd be paying until doomsday. I feel that our providers should be compensated, but not to the tune of $2000.
So for years now, after we get a bit of payment or none at all, I making sweeping write offs for people and deflect any thanks. I've probably written off hundreds of thousands by this point, and I haven't been called out on it yet. When I do this people will sometimes want to talk to my manager to compliment me, and I always say to leave me a voicemail to forward to them since I can't give out anyone else's extension. This is a lie. I just don't want my boss knowing what I am up to. I listen to the voicemails, imprint each voice on my heart, and delete them.
The way I see it, I nor anyone else doesn't make enough in the first place, and my company exists to keep poor people in medical debt in perpetuity. With the pandemic I have let things go even more. I work about two hours a day now, if you even want to call it that. Most of this is keeping up appearances, putting out fires, and writing off bills. I think my phone line is recorded, but my company is so piss poor that no one has caught me slacking or writing stuff off yet. I will keep doing it until I get caught or until there is justice in this country insofar as medical billing goes and everything else.
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