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Paid in Full

Remember that time back in December when I was having esophageal spasms that were like bacon frying in my chest, and I was transferred to the hospital via ambulance, and the whole thing was related to panic and post-trauma approaching the anniversary of December 23?


Well, I got the bill for that luxury ride.  Just a bit over one thousand dollars.


When I see a bill like that, I wonder why I didn’t freaking drive myself to the blasted hospital.  And then I remember that I couldn’t sit up or speak, and I give myself a little grace as I dip into my savings account.


Before they received my payment, they sent me a second bill; the two envelopes passed each other in postal cyberspace.  But here’s the deal: the second bill was for eight hundred.


I had just paid one thousand.


Just give me a moment to make a phone call here.  Do I owe another eight hundred?  Or did I overpay?  Is there money coming back to me?  Let’s all cross our fingers and hope on cherry sundaes.


I spoke with the operator, and she said, “Oh, I see, so you have two bills then?”


“Yes.  The first is for $1000, and the second is for $800.”


“Well, that’s a conractual adjustment.  That’s all.”


“Can you tell me more about that?”


“Sure.  When we work with an insurance company, we make contractual adjustments to the total cost.  So that $200 isn’t actually real money paid.”




“Well, it’s real money that I paid.


“It’s just a contractual adjustment, ma’am.”


“I’m so sorry – and please forgive me – but I have no idea what that means right now.  I paid the bill, but then I received a second one for two hundred dollars less.  So, as I see it, if I had waited two weeks to pay the bill, it would have cost me two hundred dollars less.”


“Ma’am, if I were you, I’d pay the eight hundred instead of the one thousand.”


Well, you and I think alike.  “The problem is, I already paid the higher bill.”


“Then your balance is paid in full.”


“Well, more than full, I think.  I paid two hundred dollars more.”


“Oh, so you’re wondering who will receive the refund for the extra money you paid?”


A break through.  “Yes.”


“Well, it will either be you, or the insurance company, or it’s just a contractual adjustment.”


“And how could we narrow down which one?”


She’s going to talk to her supervisor and return my call.


Contractual Adjustment.  Please.  I’ll Contract your Adjustment.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. Having personally dealt with cancer related bills for the last 7 years, I quickly learned NOT to pay any bill until it is turned over to their attorney for collection. Amazing how the amount I owed was dramatically reduced. I used to feel guilty not paying on time – not anymore. Lesson learned.

    • That’s exactly what I was going to say: wait, don’t pay the first bill, just wait. We “owed” $1500 after insurance had paid their totals…until I asked the hospital for an itemized bill. Suddenly that $1500 disappeared! Good rule of thumb: wait.

  2. “I’ll Contract your Adjustment.” LOL!
    Either that or I’ll “adjust your contract”!

  3. Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse with Obamacare!!!

  4. I can relate to this scenario. I had surgery last Oct and continue to argue with both Medicare and Ralph’s employment insurance as to who will pay for the surgery. Neither feel they are responsible. I am wondering why I pay monthly premiums

  5. What kind of nonsense is that about?! This month I was on a similar phone call for a twenty four THOUSAND hospital bill. Finally it got sorted out to: “Looks like your payment and this letter crossed in the mail.” Ok. I’ll take it. Even though we made our payment AT the hospital before I even left. Good luck, Tricia.

  6. OH. MY. WORD. I… can’t put my thoughts together any better than that. I feel your pain. Go get ’em, girl.

  7. Oh my goodness gracious!! Something needs adjusting, that’s for sure!

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