An Absurd Morning on the Telephone with Medical Billing Offices
Me: Good morning, Operator. I need the billing office.
Local hospital operator: OK, just one moment.(moments pass..)
Records office: Records office. How may I help?
Me: I need to check on an emergency room bill.
Records office: Let me transfer you to Billing.
Billing office: Billing, how can I help you?
Me: I have this bill that conflicts with my EOB. Long string of numbers, names, DOB follows.
Billing office: I have no record of this bill. Try the attending physician. Here is the number (gives 888 number). (wait for it…) Oh wait, everything’s changed. You’ll have to call THIS number for the Boggy Creek Emergency Physicians * (gives 800 number).
Me: Calling…doo-do0-DOO! (very bad transcription of the old telephone “you f’d up!” tones) The number you have called is not in service. Please hang up…click
Me: (Dials again, CAREFULLY)
Operator (recording): Welcome to Martin Greenbaum Associates. For Billing, press 1; for the Jewish Foundation, press 2; for the Independent American Fans of Hiko-Nyan, press 3; for the Czech Foundation of String Theory Professors, press 4. (well, you get the idea). Finally, press 0 for the operator.
Operator (mostly human): Martin Greenbaum Associates, how may I help you?
Me: I have an emergency room bill that disagrees with my EOB.
Operator: Wait a moment. You need Billing. (no mention of the Boggy Creek Emergency Physicians or the attending physician whose bill it is).
Billing office: Billing, this is Tiffany.
Me: Hi, Tiffany, I have this bill I don’t owe, and here’s a long string of information so you know what the F- I’m talking about.
Tiffany: What when where? (clickety click click with a light sound of a squishy lemon impacting a desk or a forehand connecting with a forehead, then a pregnant pause) No, you don’t owe this. We made an error. I fixed it. Just tell them Tiffany at extension 2001 said so.
Me: Wait, I’ve been transferred so much that I don’t know the company I’m talking to or who you represent, Tiffany, but thanks for ending my struggle (I think). Please send me a piece of paper that says I don’t owe this bill for $400! My vet bills are already $1000+ and I’m flat broke.
Tiffany: Will do!
Me: Now, Tiffany, can you transfer me to the Hiko-Nyan fans association? I need a mindless, oversized kitten representing an ancient Japanese castle to take the taste of modern medical insurance madness out of my mouth.
Tiffany: Sure thing! Nyan! Nyan! (transfer — doo do0 DOO!…oh no, not again…)
* No, the company isn’t the Boggy Creek Emergency Physicians group. They treat Bigfoot. In fact, I think the reason we never can catch a Bigfoot is that they’re so far in arrears in their payments to this medical association they decided to go off the grid and return to nature. As far as I’m concerned, Bigfoot hunters are no better than collection agencies! (disclaimer: I’m trying to be funny. Please say I’m funny. No? Well, maybe I’ll do better on the Bigfoot comedy circuit.)