Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Reid pulling back collection letters prematurely sent to patients

Reid Hospital is asking two collection companies to pull back letters that were sent prematurely to patients for unpaid bills.

“We apologize for this miscommunication,” said Craig Kinyon, Reid President/CEO, referring to the letters that some patients received in January from Finance System and United Collection. “We have discovered that many of these patients may not have received the standard series of three monthly bills that they should have received before any collection agencies became involved. I take full responsibility for this problem, and we are taking immediate steps to correct it.”

He said the letters gave readers the impression that their credit report could be affected. “This is not the case -- and we regret that this added a significant amount of stress to our patients and families.” Kinyon said a policy change as of January 1, 2015, means that unpaid medical accounts will no longer be reported to credit bureaus or affect credit ratings. In other words, even if a collection agency gets involved with a Reid patient account, there will not be any negative reporting from Reid on their personal credit file.

The steps to resolve the issues include:
  • Immediately pulling back all the accounts in question from collection agencies to handle them in house at Reid.
  • Sending a new communication to those patients affected and letting them know of any additional steps to take.
  • Allowing extra time and bill adjustments when appropriate to resolve any due balances.
Kinyon said the notices in some cases were for balances that may have only recently been billed that largely resulted from performance issues with a former billing company.

He emphasized that as of January 1 of this year, collection agencies used by Reid no longer submit any non-payments to credit reporting agencies, which has been a major concern to the people who received letters from Finance System and United Collection. “These unpaid balances will not and would not have affected anyone’s credit,” he explained. “Because of the confusion, we will continue to work one-on-one with anyone who has questions or concerns as we rectify this situation.”

Generally, these balances reflect the patient’s portion after their insurance plan has paid.

He said the hospital’s billing team is working with customers who may have not realized they owed balances dating back in some cases to 2011. “We are dealing with these on a case by case basis. We will be sending letters to all those who have received the notices with information on how to proceed. The most important thing we want them to know is that we take responsibility for all of the concerns and issues and will work with them.”

Kinyon said Reid took back all functions of billing from a contracted service provider on Oct. 1. He said the department has expanded by 24 team members as work continues to revamp and improve operations. “We are confident that we have resolved the issues we have found and that we won’t have this type of breakdown again,” he said.

Questions and answers about recent billing issues

Question: I got a collection notice. What should I do?
Answer: These notices were sent in error and can be ignored. We will be sending another communication to those affected.

Question: Why am I receiving bills now for things dating back so long?
Answer: Some customers with Dates of Service generally prior to 6/1/2014 were not billed, or not billed in a timely manner, because of problems that were discovered several months ago involving a former billing management company.

Question: Won’t this collection notice unfairly affect my credit scores?
Answer: Absolutely not. We are immediately pulling these accounts back from these agencies. And because we stopped reporting to credit bureaus as of Jan. 1, 2015, the notices would never have affected anyone’s credit.

Question: I believe my bills are wrong or have already been paid. What should I do?
Answer: Watch for a new communication in the mail with more details or contact our Patient Financial Services team by calling (765) 983-3184. You may also visit a specialist at our 1501 Chester Boulevard location.

Question: Have you resolved the problem?
Answer: Yes. We have taken numerous steps over the past few weeks, including adding staff and improving computer systems used for billing. We have also brought the billing process back in-house as a function of employees who work directly for Reid.

Question: Was my insurance plan already billed?
Answer: Primary insurance plans were billed. The balances owed represent the patient’s co-pay, deductible and non-covered amounts. If a patient has two insurance plans, we will write-off the amounts that were not billed appropriately to the secondary insurance plan.

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