Why I Hate Banner Health Systems

Mr. gyma is covered by Medicare and at the beginning of the year we opted for BC/BS Anthem, an Advantage program.  I can’t tell if our health care billing problems stem from the insurance company or from our health care provider, but I’m leaning towards the latter.

First off it takes months to get statements from either of them and then they are so cryptic it’s difficult to tell what you’re paying for.  I’ve called both companies several times and am always frustrated by the experience.

My latest complaint is that we received a bill from Banner today for $123 from a visit in April 2008.  I called to inquire what this was for since the only information provided is a date of service and the amount due.  There is no informaion whatsoever describing what care was received.  I keep careful, documented records and according to my records we still have a credit from an overpayment in March.

I dug out and reviewed the 4″ file folder, took a deep breath and prepared to do battle.  It appeared to me we were being charged not only the full amount for a blood draw ($76) , but also an additional $47!  Mr. gyma has been having the same test done monthly for several months, so I’m well aware that the amount the insurance company expects us to pay is $14.

I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with the billing department and went round and round with her before I could get her to understand that 1) we overpaid by $30 in March, 2) we owed $14 for a blood draw in April, 3) we owed another $14 for a blood draw in May, and 4) we had a $2 credit applied to the blood draw done in June and I had already made a $12 payment for the balance.  Seems quite simple and straightforward to me, but apparently not to the simple minded people employed by Banner Health Care.

The customer service representive tried to explain to me that yes, she saw we had a $30 credit, but $15 was applied to our charges in April.  I asked why $15 when all we owed was $14?  She simply repeated that $15 was charged to our account and another $15 was charged to May, when again all we owed was $14. 

Eventually she agreed that the $123 statement we received was in error and she was going to send it back to the insurance unit for review.  I asked whether an amended statement would be sent showing we didn’t owe anything and she said probably not, but I should call back in two weeks to see if our account had been cleared.  Now that’s customer service!

The last time I called Banner Health to complain about not being given our remaining $2 credit, a young man had the audacity to tell me that the reason why they don’t send detailed bills is because some customers complained their mail was being stolen!  So the solution was to stop sending bills altogether.  Now that’s progress.

Personally I think the company is intentionally vague so that we’ll simply pay the bill without asking any questions.  DO NOT DO THIS!  I can’t tell you the number of times and the ways we’ve been overcharged – and this is in less than a year.

We were charged for a procedure that was supposed to be paid at 100%.  This was early in the year before I had received the detailed information from the insurance company so I paid it.  It took several months to get it reversed and they wouldn’t send us a refund check.

The next two procedures should have been covered by the credit we received (see above) with a $2 balance.  I guess Banner Health feels $2 is chump change because the next bill we received was for the full amount of the procedure.  I had to argue with the billing department for 15 minutes and talk to several snotty customer service reps before the last one rudely asked, “So what exactly do you want us to do about the $2?”  I said send me a new bill for $2 less!

I, for one, would welcome “socialized” medicine where the health care providers are paid by the government and we’d never again see a bill or have to talk to an insurance company or billing department ever again.

Anyone seen “Sicko?”

Next up?  I’m writing a complaint letter to the CEO of Banner Health suggesting an audit be done.  I’m absolutely certain others have been overcharged and didn’t understand the bill so they paid it anyway.  And the next time we see our doctors, we’ll complain to them, too, since we apparently have to use this facility for any diagnostic work.


2 Responses to “Why I Hate Banner Health Systems”

  1. GOD BLESS YOU. I have been dealing with these people for the past year over a bill that started out as $900, but then turned into $1600 even though I was sending in monthly payments to minimize the already bloated balance. Requests for itemized statements went unanswered (until I threatened to sue). I asked for financial help, explained my situation to a number of “Financial Councilors”, and I eventually filed suit and asked to speak to a legal negotiator. AND THEY ARE STILL SENDING ME BILLS. These people are hopeless.

  2. Want Good Healthcare Says:

    The single worst ER visit ever with unfathomable ineptitude & a prime example of elder abuse. My father came by an ambulance after falling & complaining of rib pain. He was Xrayed & after a couple of hours was returned to the area where my family was waiting. He has Alzheimers & came into the ER with an incontinence product in place. He was laying in cold urine when he came back to us. We had to ask repeatedly for help as we did not bring one with us. They finally cleaned him up, but still no incontinence product. This was done by a a heartless nursing staff person who has annoyed that we even asked for help. Then the Doctor comes in & says there is no break, everything OK. Dad is still complaining of pain & clutching his side. We asked again to help him with something for pain. NOTHING!! What an incompetent unprofessional “care” center! After hopsice came & took him to assisted living, the nurse discovered that the Radiologist had detected a possible fracture, but an MRI was needed to see how many ribs, front or back. We don’t even know if the ER doctor even read the Radiologist’s report. The ER Dr looked at the XRay & declared all is well. Mission statements from Banner’s website. I would recommend this place to people ALREADY DEAD or people I do not like so they could receive abusive, uncaring, incorrect, and non-care. Perhaps even a misdiagnosis so they could suffer needlessly.

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