Last year I made an unexpected visit to an emergency room, and the first thing Kathy asked when we arrived was, “Do you take Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas.” The person assisting us replied yes, and within 90 minutes I was fixed up and on our way back home. Then the bill from the doctor arrived a few weeks later. You guessed it. He didn’t accept our insurance.
After nearly a year of trying to negotiate a reduction in the fee – $1,278 for less than 20 minutes of his time – we received notice that the full amount was due within two weeks. The frustration I felt after all this led me to write a letter to his practice group that included these two paragraphs:
Certainly, you are allowed to operate your business in whatever way you deem best meets your financial needs. However, I think it is inconsiderate – and, perhaps, deceptive, especially during times of emergency – for facilities where you practice to not clearly state verbally and in writing that the attending physician may not be on approved insurance plans.
I write not to ask for further consideration of reducing our charges, as that seems to be an irreversible decision, and we sent in payment for the invoice. My purpose is to ask you to adjust your systems and processes to inform those who work in facilities where you provide medical services to clarify for patients and their families whether their specific insurance applies to your attending physicians.
Neither the physician nor anyone representing his practice responded. I copied all of our political representatives. A member of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter six weeks later thanking me for expressing “concerns about the Affordable Care Act” that continued with him expressing everything he disagrees with in “Obamacare” and how he will repeal the “burden upon the American people” when a new president is elected. (It was pretty much a form letter, and I’m guessing my point was lost on the staffer who processed it.)
Two weeks after that a letter arrived from one of our two U.S. Senators, who thanked me for recognizing the time and effort I took to “actively participate in the democratic process.” His letter was more specific with statistics on the cost of health care programs and that he supports “realistic reforms that lower health care costs, address entitlement spending, and increase access to affordable health coverage.” (While he didn’t address my specific concerns, I’m hoping the staffer who took care of this response at least thought about our experience.)
My point in sharing this is not to take a political stance on the Affordable Care Act. I’ll leave that to others. It’s to remind you that all of your customers/clients want to be heard – and when they share an opinion, it would be nice if your reply addressed it directly.
[Interestingly, we haven’t heard from our other U.S. Senator. Perhaps he’s too busy running for president – albeit far behind his billionaire opponent – to focus on the constituents who sent him to Washington to represent them.]