American Medical Mayhem

Operator: Scripps Mercy Hospital

Me: Hello, could I have the billing department, please?

Operator: Yes, I’ll transfer you.

Megan: Hello, this is Megan, how may I help you?

Me: Hi, Megan. I just received a bill . . . let me give you my account number: it’s 012345678

Megan: Yes, Mr. Dingman, I have that in front of me.

Me: I think there’s been an error. This is an Emergency Room bill for $567 . . . All I did was occupy space in the lobby for about 3o minutes. I saw nobody and was not treated.

Megan: But you did go to the Emergency Room, didn’t you?

Me: That’s where the ambulance driver brought me because it was the closest one. He charged $1,578 for the two mile drive!

Megan: But he did bring you to the Scripps Mercy Emergency Room. That’s what the charge is for.

Me: But, Megan . . . I must not be communicating. My friend arrived about 30 minutes after they left me in the lobby. I decided to let him drive me over to Kaiser where my insurance is. I told the admitting nurse and she had me sign out on some kind of form.

Megan: I understand, but still, you went to the Emergency Room and interacted with the admitting nurse?

Me: Yes, but nobody treated me. I did nothing but sit in a chair in the lobby for about 30 minutes. I never passed through the big swinging doors into the treatment area.

Megan: Yes, but you still came to the Emergency Room and that is what the charge is for.

Me: Really? I mean, REALLY?? Megan, come on . . . that’s absurd!

Megan: It’s the way it is, sir.

Me: I know that’s what you’ve been trained to say, but just between us, it is ridiculous, isn’t it?

Megan: No, sir. We charge for services and that is why you were billed.

Me: But, Megan: I received NO services. I occupied space, sat in a chair and left.

Megan: I’m sorry sir, but that’s the way it is. It’s always been that way.

Me: That doesn’t make it right.

Megan: I’m sorry I cannot help you.

Me: Well, then we have two courses of action. First, I’ll give you my Kaiser account information and you can try to extract payment from them – although, if I were Kaiser I certainly wouldn’t pay. If you are unsuccessful, then you’ll have to sue me for it. I’d love to stand before a judge and describe this situation!

Megan: I’ll make a note in your file to that effect. Can you give me your Kaiser number?

Me: it is 8765432.

Megan: Thank you, is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: No, you’ve already helped me about as much I can possibly stand.

Megan: Very well. I am required to remind you that this call has been recorded for quality purposes.

Me: That’s fine. I’ve been recording it too.

Megan: Thank you, my name is Megan and it has been my pleasure to serve you, may I transfer you to our automated quality service survey?

Me: Seriously?

Megan: click.

True. Word for word. Exactly as it transpired.