My medical bills are being sent by default to my husband. Makes me want to SCREAM

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Signorina, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    We have a 2 income family and I carry our health insurance thru my employer. I also handle the household bills. And I am the one who makes the doctors appts and takes the kids when necessary. Nothing unusual about that.

    Again, it's MY health insurance - H and kids are my dependents. And I have a loving marriage - so there's no issue there.

    Today, a medical bill arrives addressed to H. I am the only one who has been to the dr lately. I stand while H opens it (I won't open his mail) and sure enough it's for my pap & mammo last month. Of course, instead of stating pap - it states CYTO VAGINAL Screen <shudder>. Now, in my opinion, my vagina=my business.

    And I am peeved. Because not only do I KNOW my insurance paid the bill over a month ago - since I get the Explanation of Benefits - and in fact we are due a refund of the $20 copay; it's MY insurance. And H couldn't access my EOB if he wanted to verify the bill. And what if I wasn't in a loving marriage and I had a bozo husband or I was shy and didn't want my H knowing I had a "CYTO V....... screen"?

    So, I write a letter to the billing department. And they call me. And get all righteous indignation on me. Tell me we have a "family account, (true, we all see the same dr) and that's why the bill goes to my H. But they can split me off of the family bill and send me my own bills from now on.
    And I explain that I carry the insurance and therefore am the "responsible party" and the bill should come to me. And she tells me it automatically defaults to the husband. (wtf?) So, I ask her to change the "bill to" to my name. AND SHE CAN'T! (or won't) I explain that my H has no access to the explanation of benefits and she repeats that the only thing she can do is split my bills off from my family's bills. Now I dont care if it comes to "J and A Smith" or "Smith" or "Mr & Mrs. Smith." Jut put my name on the bill. I don't open H's mail as a matter of course. Nope, no can do.

    And then I remind her that the bill was paid in full by my insurance co long before I was billed. And she gets all huffy and checks, and says "yes I see that here in my system, you do not owe us." and then ends the call.

    Welcome back to 1950
  2. keista

    keista New Member

    I hear ya sistah! This kind of bureaucratic BS really steams me!

    Any chance you did NOT put husband on that dr's HIPPA release form? If you didn't, I'd file complaints with the medical board and whoever else, that they violated HIPPA laws.
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Not just no but HADES NO!!!

    This is ILLEGAL. Just because he is your husband does NOT mean he has ANY right to your medical info of any kind. As it stated what they did, even with-o a diagnosis code, this is a HUGE violation of HIPPAA.

    You MUST contact the dr AND whomever is the head, CEO, top dog of the business. It often is NOT your doctor. If it is a separate billing company, then contact the head of their company also.

    Contact the state medical and insurance boards and file complaints with BOTH of them.

    The main reason beyond your privacy is that many many women are NOT in loving relationships and their husband's could see this and decide it is proof of some kind of infidelity and hurt them. And yes, legally the company COULD and SHOULD be held liable for this injury.

    Besides, how does the billing dept know that husband is your husband and not your son? Sure they COULD look in the file maybe, but how many WOULD? Who wants their son to know they had a test on their private parts and how would it be your child's business? Many families have the same name for son and dad, and even if they don't, how could someone tell from a name that it is a son or a father? Sure the DOB would give some indication, but what if you married a much older man? One who had a son your age or older than you? Just because you don't doesn't mean that someone's resentful stepkid wouldn't post this online or use it to hurt them somehow.

    This is NOT the 1950's and this is flat out illegal. Heck, I have to sign paperwork for my husband to even speak to my dr office about an appointment time. He doesn't call ever because most dr offices won't go look for the release and just refuse to even speak to him. Or me about him. And that is one heck of a lot less personal than knowing what tests were or were not done or what part of the body the doctor looked at.

    I hope you have this person's name because seh was ABUSIVE - be SURE to tell the CEO AND the doctor about that also. If you get any more abuse or stupidity from them about this, find the top person at the state medical and ins boards and call them personally. Even if you have to stay on hold all day on speakerphone. Then send the doctor a bill for your time. I am serious - give him a bill for consulting to fix the messed up billing and consider yourself his business consultant at about $500 or more an hour. Not joking at all. It WILL get his attention. Or ask his wife how SHE would like to have that sent to her, or ask the local DV center how they would like it if one of their clients had that bill sent to their abusive husband.
  4. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Honey - you just call those huffy billing people right back and request the name of their HIPAA compliance officer (every medical organization is required to have one). What if you were being treated for (insert any number of things) and didn't want husband to know? This is a HIPAA violation - big time. The fines are very impressive. ;)

    Sheesh.... and to think of all those years I had to bloody fight with- insurance/medication providers to get simple billing information so I could pay thank you's medical bills (at the ripe old age of 14).

    Sometimes you just can't win.

    But seriously.... HIPAA compliance officer - this is a huge no-no. Formal complaints re: HIPAA violations are, I believe, handled by Dept of Justice.

    Found these interesting tidbits -
    HIPAA violation is due to willful neglect and is not corrected $50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million
    Fines are via HHS (Feds)

    This is without question a willful violation. Anyone who works in the medical field should be trained in HIPAA.

    Covered entities and specified individuals, as explained below, whom "knowingly" obtain or disclose individually identifiable health information in violation of the Administrative Simplification Regulations face a fine of up to $50,000, as well as imprisonment up to one year.
    These consequences are via Dept of Justice.

    Biller is a covered entity - and she's disclosed your identifiable health info knowingly.
  5. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Wow!!!!! As someone who went through a really horrible marriage and equally horrible divorce, I can see all kinds of problems that could come from something like this!
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Awesome info Sue!!! Can that be put in the archives? I know some of us have had all sorts of problems and that might be handy in other situations.
  7. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    The only reason they get away with this is because nobody is willing to stand up for their rights. You can be the one. Raise he!! with everybody from the hospital to the insurance company to the state insurance board untill you get it fixed. This is unacceptable!
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Sig... Look at it this way: It's a chance to dust off your Warrior Mom armour... and do something for YOURSELF for a change.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Mega HIPPA violation, law could care less if your married or not. AND, insurance is through YOU, which means husband has nothing to do with it. I know that one from the reverse.....husband did get the bills because he's the one who had to deal with the insurance co because our coverage was through him.

    Now here is a funny. I always opened husband's mail if I got to it first, unless it was something trivial. This started way back when he was so horrible about paying bills, or rather NOT paying bills. It was the only way I ever found out short of having my utilities cut off. But husband would not dare touch my mail, regardless of what it was. Not that I'd have been mad, I have nothing to hide and it didn't bug me. He just refused to do it.
  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes, please for the sake of all of something! Take action!!! We deserve the same privacy afforded to men!!!
  11. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Ditto this!!!

    This "automatically defaults to the husband" garbage always ticks me off, too!
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    We had a similar thing happen except... SOMEHOW... All our bills were being sent to my PARENTS!!!

    Now, we have a last name difference - clear at the other end of the alphabet. We live in different cities. We're talking - no way.

    When the kids got on my insurance back in August, I made sure the pediatrician had the contact info right, our house phone # had changed. Also double checked emergency contacts.

    SOMEHOW - and I've seen the paper I filled out, and our address is clearly in the right spot - my parents' phone number is on there but NO ADDRESS - they got my parents' NAMES and ADDRESS in their system and were sending them, not c/o my parents, TO them!

    We wouldn't have known if Dad hadn't called... It's been fixed, now.

    Interestingly, in my experience you have to actually name your husband - AND give him a PIN # to use. Then again, husband goes to the VA and I go to an actual Dr so that could be the difference - my docs haven't ever seen husband.
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I didn't march and I didn't burn bras BUT that is the reason that I always managed to scrape together the few bucks to pay my dues to NOW. Don't let them do it......for the sake of all women. Hugs DDD
  14. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Thank you so much for getting it! I am so frustrated!! I will definitely get angry with them...but will likely delay it for a few months. I will be needing a lot of appointments in the next few months and I don't want to rock the boat. I will need full cooperation if I want/need plastic surgery to correct the damage from that stupid flying umbrella (which broke my nose in 3 places!) I don't want to cut off my nose (ha!) to spite my face at this point. LOL And the letter I sent (to both the practice and the billing office) was very strongly worded - in fact I emphatically stated that "I am not my husband's chattel" so hopefully they get the point. And I really like the doctors in my practice, I totally think this is their stupid billing office - I've had issues with them before.

    The billing errors make me mad too. Last month - a related office (radiology-same parent hospital but different practice) billed the WRONG insurance company for my mammo and then tried to collect from me. I had a testy message on my vm when I got back from vacation, and when I called them -- they had figured out the error -- and were abrupt and said "we fixed it". Not even a thank you for getting in touch. It bugs me because I know there are people - like my mom - who get a bill and assume it must be right and then pay it.

    Lasted edited by : May 1, 2012
  15. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    :nonono: Don't use big words like "chattel". Tell the clerk "I don't belong to my husband. He doesn't understand the Federal laws that require your office to keep my records private. Believe me...I do." LOL DDD
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sig, I know you don't want to 'rock the boat', but docs often have a lot more control over their practices than most employees of a business do. Even if they work for the hospital or parent co, they still have a lot of discretion and influence. But how is the doctor to take action to fix the problem if you don't tell them? Even if the problem isn't with a staff member who works directly for the doctor, they still have influence and like any mgr they need to be told there is a problem before they can even try to fix it.

    Why not talk to the doctor at your next appointment? Say to the doctor, "I know you are not the billing dept, but I think you need to know that they send all mail to the husband of a family automatically. My husband got a statement saying what procedure/tests were done and it was mailed to him and NOT to me. I think this is not only and insult and a HIPPAA violation, it is also something that could put some women in danger if they are in abusive relationships. I did call the billing dept and was told that they do this to ALL of the patients, even when the insurance is through MY employer and it has nothing to do with my husband. I have a real problem with this, and with the attitude of the billing department. They treated me like I had no right to be upset or to even think this was a problem. I would appreciate it if you could speak to whomever is in charge of the billing department and let them know that in reality this is very serious and is a HIPPAA violation that could cost them $50,0000 and a year in jail if it is not fixed. especially as it is the policy to mail statements to my husband and not to me, even though I did NOT sign an authorization to give them permission to discuss my medical care with him."

    Often these fines are charged to the doctor or it is assumed that the doctor woudl know about this. Patients and attys both can make that assumption. But many doctors often have no clue how billing sets things up. They just know they are paid or not, etc...."

    This gives the letter some time to reach someone, and adds an ally to your side. I know the docs here would be furious if this was done to their patients. My pain doctor is esp vigilant about HIPPAA violations. He won't even let people stand behind you as you wait to check in when they are busy. he put up signs that keep people about 5-6 feet away from you as you sign in, etc....
  17. buddy

    buddy New Member

    sig, yay for you! go ahead and wait, AND gather up more and more of these mistakes and mails with the dates you have already notified them of the violations, just will add evidence.

    So get all fixed up and beautiful again....then go get them!
  18. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Susie, I will talk to the doctor's office - and I did fax them a copy of the letter. The only thing is that I don't want to revoke the permission I gave for my husband to be informed of my medical care. And I want the doctors/nurses to be able to leave messages on the voice mail. And I don't want to split apart all of our bills. I just want the bill to come TO ME. The whole bill. Or come to both of us or just to "Smith". And I know the implication is that if my H is a decent guy and I gave them permission to share my info - why is the bill a big deal? BUT IT IS - and it really bugs me that it defaults to him and that a phonecall can't change the "bill to".

    And with everything coming up - I just want to let it lie for now. The managing doctor in the practice is someone I know personally (school family, his wife is a friend/acquaintance, our kids were friends) so I will say something to him when I see him - but I would rather do it in person when I am in the office -- Know what I mean??
  19. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I got a summary of Q's medical care yesterday sent to Mrs. Q.... (and our last name).....LOL! so funny.
  20. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    If you know the Dr. personally, then you have a whole other option... rather than making it "your" problem, come across like you're covering HIS backside... he may not be aware that the billing department is likely contravening HIPPA etc., and you don't want him to get into trouble. You're in a stable relationship, but what about yada yada... Know what I mean??

    Might be able to solve your own problem, and help your Dr. friend, and do good for others, all without making negative waves for yourself?...