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Medical Billing – A Complex Subject

September 18, 2013

Medical billingHere’s a headline in today’s St. John News – EMS department has over $200K in Outstanding Billings.

The continued potential for a misunderstanding of medical billing seems never-ending.

So, why is there the potential for misunderstanding? The short answer is “Medical billing is complex beyond belief.” Let me explain.

First of all this is an amount that encompasses four years. The meeting notes in the article elude to that, but not clearly. A quick check with any ambulance service in the nation would find similar percentages in uncollected billings.

Next, here in Stafford we understand that many residents live on a limited income. While most people would love to pay their entire ambulance bill immediately – in full, they simply cannot. So, we allow payments. The notes following the headline won’t explain that important detail.

Sadly, more and more people in America have no health care insurance. Many of our patients go on to major hospitals and have major medical procedures. The debt they incur is astronomical. Even if they tried most non-insured individuals could never pay off their medical debt.

It also needs to be pointed out that ambulance collections over the past four years have remained strong even though our total transport numbers have gone down. We have accomplished that by generating funds through our paramedics and by helping our neighboring counties with transports when they don’t have resources. Those things don’t get explained in meeting notes.

The reason we have partnered with Stafford Hospital is multi-faceted. They research information on the same patients we transported by ambulance (our patients are most often their patients). Another plus of having the hospital help us it they have workers that are totally dedicated to billing.

Commissioner meeting notes are posted to keep citizens informed yet often those notes don’t adequately explain complex issues. They weren’t meant to.

We just hope readers recognize the complexity of this very complex issue.

*If you don’t think medical billing is complex beyond belief – just ask the Hutchinson Regional Hospital. It was announced today they will be reimbursing $1.7 million for improperly collected Medicare payments.

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