When you have a chronic illness, the medical bills can add up.
Glen Rose minister Anna Lou Lipscomb knows that all too well. When her bills didn't seem to add up, she called NBC 5 Responds.
Lipscomb keeps good records. She's battled multiple sclerosis for three decades, but MS isn't what sent her to the hospital last June.
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"My dad, my aunt, her son, her daughter and my grandmother all passed away in their 60s from massive coronaries," she said.
Lipscomb's brother survived a massive heart attack, as did her best friend, Cindy, who is only 55 years old.
"This happening with Cindy, I went, 'I better have it checked,' and my doctor set me up with a cardiologist," she said.
The doctor ordered a nuclear stress test to be performed at Lake Granbury Medical Center, a hospital in Lipscomb's insurance network. The test was administered over two days.
"The doctors want to get the comparison between one day and the next day," she said.
Lipscomb called her insurance to check out-of-pocket costs before the procedure. Her copayment for the stress test was $275 dollars. She paid $100 on the day of the procedure.
"There should have only been $175 left," she said.
Instead, Lipscomb said she received a bill for $450. Her insurer told her she'd been billed for her copayment twice, once for each day the procedure was administered.
Lipscomb paid one copayment and called hospital billing repeatedly. Because it was clear that she was being asked to pay two copayments for one procedure, she believed the matter would be corrected.
Then Lipscomb received a collection letter. She paid them another $275 because she didn't want her credit rating damaged.
"I was so mad," she said. "I just wrote that check out."
But Lipscomb believes the hospital made a mistake and owes her a refund.
"This isn't right," she said shaking her head. "So I thought, 'Let's do something about it.'"
NBC 5 Responds called her insurer, who blamed the hospital, saying it coded the bill as two procedures.
Hospital officials declined our request for an interview, citing patient privacy, but an administrator called Lipscomb blaming the insurer for the apparent mistake. The administrator apologized and promised a refund.
If you suspect your medical bill is wrong, here's our advice:
- Always ask for an itemized bill
- If the billing department doesn't answer your question, ask to speak to a supervisor. For example, at Lake Granbury that person is called the Patient Access Director.
- Dispute the bill by writing an appeal letter to your insurer. It can ask the hospital to resubmit the claim.