I think I'm being taken advantage of by my podiatrist! (LONG)

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Todd Hochard, Jul 20, 2004.

  1. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Financially, that is.

    Here's the thing-

    I've had a Plantar's wart on the bottom of my foot for several years. Seemed to pick it up during the Sea Doo years (1997 or so). He tells me it's a skin viral infection. It didn't really bother me, didn't hurt, just unsightly, really. Over the last year or so, one turned into two, and two other small ones were forming.

    The whole thing went like this-

    6/11- Initial visit. We discuss options, and after explaining to me a 12-18 week program of weekly visits to his office to attempt to burn them off/dry them out with high% Hydrogen Peroxide, I ask about surgery. He says "best option." I say "let's do it." He says 8am, 6/24. He says "this will not cost you a penny out of pocket." Fantastic. 20 minutes for the whole thing.

    6/24- Go to the outpatient foot surgery center downtown at 7am. Sign many papers, get short crutch training, then into pre-op, given IV. Nice center. Small, like a 50-era FL house, across from ORMC (big hospital here). Nice folks. 8am, wheeled into op, see the Anisthesiologist, and surgical nurse, and the doc. She gives me something, and I am (apparently, I have no recall) in a stupor like AAAHHNOLD in True Lies, during the truth serum sequence. About 8:30am, my wife and kids show back up, I hear "there they are" from the nurse (the return of my memory). I get in the car, complete with goofy shoe, and go home at 8:45am or so. 15 total stitches for four incisions to remove an 8mm wart, 5mm wart, and two 3mm warts.Cliff Notes- outpatient surgery, 1hr, 45min. 4 warts gone.

    6/27- followup visit at the doc's office. "Looks good, you can get it wet now." See ya in two weeks. 15min, tops.

    7/12- another followup. "Healing nice, but let's leave the stitches in another week, since the cuts are all right where you walk on." OK. I'm annoyed, as the stitches feel like pins everytime I walk, but OK. 15 min, again.

    7/19- stitches out. The nurse/assistant put some "purple stuff," some glue, and some butterfly strips on the cuts. "Come back in three weeks." Uh, what for?, but OK.

    Today- I get an EOB from my insurance company. The bill-

    $14,872 from the Outpatient Clinic
    $3500 from the Surgeon


    All but $7000 of this was "disallowed," with my share coming to $3300 (on top of the $7000, that is).

    Hmm...must be a mistake. Surely a mistake. I call the office. "Hi, I was in yesterday. I just got a $14000 bill." "Hold, please."

    The Office Manager then proceeds to explain to me how this is reasonable. She completely ignores my points about the birth of my children (everything, from prenatal care for 9 months, sonogram, tests, delivery, hospital stay, pediatrician visits, EVERYTHING) were both under $10000 (the 2nd just last December), total billed. She explains how the doctor gave me his word, and that if he said my cost is zero, then it is zero. They will write off what the ins did not pay. "So, if your cost is zero, Mr. Hochard, what do you care?" I finally say, "Look, I can see you are purposely evading addressing the issue of the cost, the number I gave you, directly. Let me bottom line it for you- I cannot, in good conscience, allow you to bilk my insurance company for $7000, regardless if I'm spending one copper penny or not." She says, "let me research, I'll call you back."

    5min later- the doctor calls me. We have a long discussion about billing for certain procedures, and that he doesn't set the rates, the ins co does. So, what's he to do (the ole' "don't look a gift horse in the mouth" bit). I say "look, you and I are both smart enough to know where the insurance money ultimately comes from, and I simply cannot allow that to happen. If you had been square with me about the cost upfront, I NEVER would have agreed to it, 100% covered or not." He then goes into the ole' "are you not satisfied" and "I may not understand the rates in your line of work either" bit, but I deflect and stay to point. He says, "look, if you are not satisfied, I'll return some or all of the money. I said zero cost to you, and I mean it."

    I cannot fathom how this entire evolution, from start to finish, could cost much over $3000. Seriously. Anyone disagree?

    Where to go? I have a STRONG feeling that doc and the clinic have an "agreement" to work the billing system for all it's worth. If I allow this to go on, I won't get any hassle from him, but feel like I'm part of the problem of skyrocketing insurance rates (never mind that I can't believe insurance just paid the frickin' thing!). If I play hardball, he might play back, and I may get stuck with a serious bill. I do have access to John Morgan (you FL people you him- Mr. "For the People"), to get advice if I have to go that way.
    In my ideal world, I'd like him to get a frickin' conscience, and offer good service for a reasonable fee. I'm looking for ways to bring him around to this.

    My longest post EVER. I needed to vent. I honestly haven't been this angry since the neighbor punk pointed a rifle at me 8 years ago (he got his[​IMG] ). Thanks for reading, if you made it this far.[​IMG]

    Todd
     
  2. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    this seems quite expensive, about 16 years ago I had a BB removed from my hand that had been in it for about 3 years, was outpatient surgery and I was zonked with somthing, all said and done I had 7 stitches in my hand and a calcified BB in a test tube, took like 2 hours total from me walking in till I left

    total cost was about $300
     
  3. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    There is essentially no chance that they'll be keeping that entire $7000 they hornswaggled my ins co for, so long as I have something to say about it. I'm trying to figure out my best move, as it were. This problem is clearly bigger than me, and I can't be the only one this has happened to. But, I do intend to figure out how to make it stop.
     
  4. David McGough

    David McGough Second Unit

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    I have warts on my left foot and have had for about 5 years.
    About the last 3 years I went to Wall Mart and bought me
    on of the sharp blades in the sewing, handy craftswoman place.

    About twice a month I trim my wart on the bottom of my foot.
    I scrape it real good.. I know its a hassel but it takes care of it.. I walk with no pain.
    I went to my local foot man and he was the pitts.
    That is what he did and charged me $250. Said before we do surgery lets try this medication..
    He was a RIP.. Them and back Dr.s are RIP'S

    PS I can't figure out how a person who has surgery not be out any money. Its going to cost something
     
  5. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Yep, that sounds way too high for what was done.

    Have you tried contacting your insurance company? After all, your hard-earned money is going to them, and I know that they must have a fraud unit of some kind, if any fraud was committed. I know that it is kind of late to get another estimate, but that would be interesting to hear too.

    Your 'free ride' for the balance smells too. I hope that you actually get another invoice from them cancelling the 7k, because if you don't, you might want to check your credit rating. After all, if they are screwing your insurance company, why stop there?

    Glenn
     
  6. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Regarding removing warts: I learned some years ago that keeping a wart covered in Aloe Vera for about a week will kill it. It will either fall out on its own, or, if you're impatient, it can be pulled out as it softens.

    I used this technique and I sister subsequently used it to remove warts from her finger. It's a bit messy and takes a little while. But it only requires a five dollar bottle of aloe vera (if you don't have an aloe plant).

    I can't imagine how it would cost $14,000 to surgically remove a wart.
     
  7. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    I had one on my foot when I was younger. I finally got sick of it and just pulled it off myself. Healed up nice, never had one again. Where's my $14,000? [​IMG]
     
  8. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    $14K for that can not be right. Hell, I think delivering a baby costs less than that. I would contact the insurance company and see what they say. I don't see how that could affect what you should pay out of pocket for this (in this case zero).

    /Mike
     
  9. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I'm trying the duct tape method myself.
     
  10. Tim Markley

    Tim Markley Screenwriter

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    This is exactly why health insurance costs so damn much. Health care in this country is completely out of control.
     
  11. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    UPDATE

    I contacted insurance, and the $14xxx bill is $36xx for the removal of each "Deep Foot Tumor," four total.

    Hmm... Plantar's warts are deep foot tumors. RIGHT.

    I also found out that the outpatient clinic is a NON-network provider (and I'm in a giant PPO, so just about EVERYBODY is in), so 70/30 is the way it's paid out.

    If I opt to play hard ball, Doc may return the favor, and I'll likely get stuck with a $1000+ bill out of pocket (even though he promised me regardless that he wouldn't- he's TRUSTWORTHY??? PUH-lease). If I zip it, then he keeps the $7200+ total he was paid, and writes off my share completely.

    What to do? I'm leaning toward petitioning for a Unicare audit, and sucking it up, whatever the cost.
     
  12. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    While that's a commendable position, Todd, one person can't change the system.

    You'd be out $1000 or more, and the doctor would just be making up the difference on someone else's billing.

    I'd say let it go and write lots of letters to your congressional representatives.
     
  13. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    Considering what most insurance companies pay out for the menial everyday procedures, I don't think it's such a big deal.

    I know a podiatrist who stopped taking insurance coverage because he couldn't pay the bills on the allowable costs of procedures by the insurance companies.

    The doctor was actually doing you a favor by not making you pay the portion of the bill that the insurance company required you to pay out of pocket.

    I'm in a weight loss program supervised by my physician. Everything except the bloodwork is free for me in exchange for doing the program's website. You better believe he's going to file an insurance claim on the office visits that are part of the program. Just because it's free for me doesn't mean expenses aren't incurred.

    As long as this doctor isn't filing a false procedure code to increase the amount of payment from the insurance company, he's doing you a favor. You get the "best option" and it doesn't cost you a penny.

    Remember how this insurance thing works. The doctor bills X amount for a procedure. The insurance company says that the procedure is only Y amount and disallows anything over Y. They will pay Y-A, and then the patient is responsible for paying A to the doctor.

    In your case, the doctor is writing off amount A.
     
  14. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

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    You've made your feelings known to your doctor and insurance company. With respect to your current situation, no point in cutting off your nose to spite your face (which could cost you another $14k). Let it go and fight it another day when you won't be penalized. Bottom line is our healthcare system is completely out of control for all of us.
     
  15. John Miles

    John Miles Stunt Coordinator

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    Best way to get rid of warts: visit your local welders' supply shop with a metal Thermos in hand, and pay them a few bucks to fill it with liquid nitrogen. (Don't seal the thermos on the way home, for obvious reasons.) Dip a Q-tip in the LN, and, well, you can figure out the rest. And yes, it will hurt. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    (Not licensed to provide medical information; post made for entertainment purposes only.)
     
  16. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    *Ring*

    Operator: Joe Schmoe's Welding Supply super-store, how can I help you?

    Me: Yes, I would like to purchase liquid nitrogen please.

    Operator: And how much are you looking to purchase?

    Me: oh, I just need a few ounces. 6 should do it.

    Operator: I'm sorry, we only deal bu the liter.

    Me: I don't need a liter, I just need to freeze some body parts off.

    *Silence.......

    Me: Hello?

    Operator: Yes, I'm sorry. I'm going to connect you too someone else, is this your body you're freezing or someone elses.

    Me: Just me.

    Operator: Hold please.

    *waiting.......

    New Operator: New York State mental health services. Agents are en-route to escort you into evaluation. Please stay on the line while I distract you by reading a Danielle Steele novella.

    Me: OK, can you skip to the good parts?

    So on a and so forth....
     
  17. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    And if I choose to let this ride, then I am part of the problem.

    I am actively working a solution. I'll post when I know more.

    Todd
     
  18. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    I think you're doing the right thing.



    It's not about changing the system, it's about stopping this doctor from stealing. Or at the very least find out what is considered a "deep foot tumor"... [​IMG]

    /Mike
     
  19. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    Without knowing the medical procedure codes for surgical wart removal, I can't answe that. But, considering it was surgery with sutures and you were anesthetized, I'd assume it would be a more expensive procedure than non-surgical options in which you are left conscious.
     
  20. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    I agree with Todd that $14k seems outrageous for this, but then again, many people are laying out $5k for a 10-minute Lasik procedure.

    Part of the problem with the system is that many doctors and hospitals need to pad the bill to compensate for services for which they are not paid. That's one of medicine's little secrets--poor people, for the most part, are treated for free, and insurance companies are often bilked to make up for it. My uncle had a hip replacement and was shocked at the bill, despite not having to pay much of it himself. When he complained, he was told flat out that it was to help cover the people who can't pay.

    So, Todd, while I agree that you are right to question this, perhaps in the grand scheme of the current system, you are helping someone get treatment that wouldn't otherwise be able.
     

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