Rebecca Overholt welcomed her first baby on Sept. 20 at Jersey City Medical Center.
What she didn’t welcome was the medical billing mess that followed.
It started with a December text that said she had a bill from Sheridan Children’s Healthcare Services, a provider at the hospital, which gave her a link to click. Concerned it was a scam, and knowing her family had reached their out-of-pocket maximum for their health insurance plan, she ignored it.
Then the Jersey City woman received a bill dated Dec. 31 from Envision Physician Services, a medical billing company, for $4,579.83.
“I did not recognize the company, and it was very clear that there were duplicate charges,” Overholt said. “So, now I had a paper bill on top of a text. I still thought it was absolute nonsense.”
She said she called the billing company to ask about the bill. They determined there had been some kind of a mix-up because Overholt’s son’s wasn’t properly registered with their insurance company — his Social Security number had initially been lost in the mail — but that had since been corrected.
“The first person I spoke with on the phone was apologetic and promised to get it fixed,” she said. “This seemed reasonable and I thought the matter was settled.”
But another bill came in February, this time for $709.83.
“This bill had less information and simply said I owed the money. No record of submission to my insurance, no explanation. Just the bill,” she said. “Now I was angry.”
She said she called again, but this time, the automated system said Overholt owed more than $2,000.
“The second person retook our information, said to disregard any other bill, and promised to fix it, and hurried me off the phone,” Overholt said. “I was mollified, but suspicious, because I didn’t get any confirmation.”
Then in the first week of April, she received a debt collection notice listing five different charges: $176.84, $228.13, and three charges of $101.62. This at least equaled $709.83, she said, but now she was furious.
She said she called again, and again the automated system said she owed more than $2,000.
“When I got to a person, she couldn’t get me off the phone fast enough. She said they’d call back the debt and hung up on me.” Overholt said. “I couldn’t even ask questions.”
She called the debt collector.
“They said they actually had many notices for me, all from the same thing, broken up into bits,” she said. “I told them to send it back as the entire bill was in error.”
Then she reached out to her insurance company, which found that one claim was paid, and there were no denied or outstanding claims, she said.
A few days later, another debt collection notice. This time it was for $467, $571, and three charges for $299, for a total of $1,935.
“This whole thing feels like a scam and an attempt to scare me or wear me down to pay them,” she said, calling it a “predatory practice.”
She asked Bamboozled for help.
GETTING IT FIXED
Envision Physician Services’ website said it handles 130 million patients a year.
It has an “F” rating by the Better Business Bureau, with 20 complaints closed in the last 12 months and 40 closed in the last three years.
We took a look at Overholt’s bills and the collection notices, and we asked Envision to review the case.
Before the week was out, Overholt’s phone rang.
She said someone from Envision called, apologized extensively for the mistakes and said everything would be made right, including calling off the collection company.
“She was fumbling a lot trying to explain, but it looked like multiple reports were generated for the same item, as well as an overlooked payment from the insurance company,” Overholt said. “It was implied that perhaps I should still owe money, but they are waiving it.”
We asked Envision to explain what happened.
It said the company determined that “because of a processing error, multiple accounts were set up in her name, leading to incorrect information being communicated to her and, ultimately, the account balances being outstanding.”
The company confirmed Overholt has a zero balance and all the bills have been pulled from collections.
“I’m relieved,” Overholt said. “And ticked off that they do this to new parents. It shouldn’t take five months, a journalist, and a really squeaky wheel to get this fixed.”
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