Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Knocked off course

A couple days ago, I told you about a healthcare company I was dealing with...well, struggling with. The company, American HomePatient, is the supplier of my sleep apnea C-PAP machine and supplies. I've detailed in this blog how much the C-PAP has improved my level of fatigue--amazingly improved--and my mood. I hate wearing the damn thing--it's not sexy and is sometimes uncomfortable--but the benefits far outweigh the occasional cost to my pride and comfort. It works, despite the fact that I have very mild sleep apnea.

And therein lies the problem, my mild sleep apnea. When I originally received the equipment, in May, 2009, I was told my insurance and co-insurance would totally cover the cost of rental and supplies. The way it works is you rent the unit for 13 months, and if you're still using it at that time, you own it. (My 13th month was June, 2010.) The supplies are needed quarterly and were also fully covered. Since May of 2009, I have not received one bill from AHP, as was expected. You can see where this is going, can't you?

In August, I was told by AHP that they screwed up. My sleep study actually didn't qualify me for a C-PAP. My sleep apnea was too mild. Because of that, they told me, I would now be responsible for my own supplies. (They had to reimburse my insurance company for the cost of the machine rental.) I even signed a form agreeing to pay for my own supplies from that moment forward. Nothing was mentioned about the rental of the unit, as was expected, because as far as I knew, I owned it. After all, it had been 15 months since I originally received it. I bet you can really see where this is heading now!

Yup, you guessed it, a few days ago I received a very large bill. AHP apparently figured out in March, 2010, that my insurance company was not paying, because I got a C-PAP rental bill--in late, late September--for April, May, June, July, and August, 2010, to the tune of $600.00! I was horrified and stunned!

It seems, like I said, that AHP knew in March that I would begin getting billed. Yet, they never informed me! I was not sentenced to C-PAP. I chose it. I made a decision to try it specifically because my insurance would cover it. To me, it's common sense that a company would notify a customer that their insurance coverage had changed. Shouldn't I have been given the choice to keep, and pay for the C-PAP, or return it? Of course I should have been! If they had called, I would have returned the unit. Problem solved. Done.

Instead, I began getting billed in secret. How lucrative is that? Rather than give their patient (me) notice that something had changed, they just started billing! And more incredulously, they didn't send the bill for 6 months! While this is technically legal, they should expect payment for services rendered, it is so wrong on so many levels, I can't stand it!

Why wasn't I given the option of returning the unit at the moment they discovered the issue? Why wasn't I notified? Even when they did call me in August, the rental cost was NOT mentioned. I was told I would need to pay for my supplies only. Fine. That was the decision I was allowed to make. Thank you very much. And since I am now on month 17 of C-PAP use, how do they justify billing me for July and August anyway? I fully expect to be billed for September, too, even though I shouldn't be. Now that I am aware of the issue, I will be returning the unit on Monday--way too late!

But wait, there's more! Of course I made numerous frustrating phone calls regarding this issue to both my local office (compassionate, though so far not helpful) and the national billing center. I was on the phone with someone nationally for maybe 5 minutes. On Friday afternoon, I got an extremely terse, bordering on rude, letter from a national customer "service" rep I'd never interacted with. I point that out because based on the tone of the letter, you'd assume I had just chewed Marcee a new asshole! Among other things, she told me AHP had every right to "roll the billing" to me because my sleep study didn't qualify me for C-PAP, and because I was "not cooperative in getting qualified." HUH?!? Marcee apparently knew something I didn't. To be uncooperative, wouldn't I have had to have been notified?? Since I was never notified of this "rolling" process, how could I have been uncooperative? Unbelievable! No one ever asked me to "help get qualified." The letter was so inappropriate, it was insulting.

Needless to say, I've been awake nights, literally, ruminating about this. I was already financially stressed when this unexpected bill arrived. I have no control over what happens, which is exceedingly frustrating. And then the unbelievable letter... No matter how much I stamp my feet, there's not much I can do about the outcome. I'm hoping the people in the local office will see the injustice in the whole situation and have some compassion. But for all I know, they have no control either. Someone is going to have to agree to lose even more money for this to come out favorably for me. I work in the healthcare business. Losing money is tough and not taken lightly. I realize I will have to get past my sense of injustice and incredulousness in order to get to some acceptance. But this is just so wrong. It's really knocked me off course...

Thanks for letting me vent.

4 comments:

Mohican said...

AHP has been struggling financially for years.

"After filing for bankruptcy in 2002, the company emerged from an 11-month reorganization in July 2003 with a plan giving it until 2009 to repay its debt. But AHP defaulted on a $226 million promissory note when it missed its Aug. 1, 2009, repayment date. Since then, the company has been operating under a series of short-term forbearance agreements with NexBank SSB, in which its lenders agreed not to take any action against the company while negotiating a resolution. The parties had been working under the 10th such agreement, which was due to expire May 16."
( http://homecaremag.com/news/american-homepatient-restructure-20100503/ )

An agreement has been reached and a reorg was approved June 30, 2010:
http://www.faqs.org/sec-filings/100630/AMERICAN-HOMEPATIENT-INC_8-K/g23945exv99w1.htm

AHP being strapped for cash has very likely led to this hardball stance they are taking with you. Here are a couple of opinions of AHP:

"Pros
High name recognition within the DME sales world. Company's reputation for service vary from so-so to horrible, depending on each city.
Cons
This company is fine to break into the medical sales industry, but they've had financial difficulty for a number of years and that affects the company attitude overall. INTENSE training for sales once you are hired and very little help from management after that."

( http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-American-HomePatient-RVW646165.htm )

"Anyway, I quit Dell before things got too bad for reps. I went to work for an equally shitty company called American Home Patient. This is a medical supply business, specializing in CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) supplies and treatment. So, Dell shits out Chris Johnson and Justin Taylor, just to name a couple, and then flushes their corporate toilet. Well, these two "wipes" now work for American Home Patient. History is repeating itself for these two pathetic attempts at humanity. I've recently been fired from AHOM because of what I know about CJ. He didn't want me talking, so he had me ousted. Justin Taylor is a limey fuck with the personality of a dried turd. American Home Patient is a terrible company anyway, so skimming the executive septic tank of Dell for some new bosses is a minor fuck-up for them. If they only knew where these assholes will take their company. Ever since they hired Chris Johnson, he has been firing their tenured reps and bringing in ex-Dell fuck heads. 70% of their management now are ex-Dell dingle berries that played a large part in fucking all of us over at Dell."
( http://www.ihatedell.net/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic,p,51957.html )

Watching the NFL pregame shows this mornung I was going to make a snarky comment about Brett Favre, but that would be piling on. Besides, the old man gets to rest this week.

etta said...

Thanks Mohican--
I certainly wish I had done half the research you just did prior to doing business with them. Now I'm really worried...

Maggie Beth said...

So Sorry Etta! I hate "money-issues" especially when they are as out right "insane" (WINK!) as this one! Feels like "Whose on First?" some times.

I would bet - of all your readers SOMEONE! somewhere will have a great suggestion -- mean while -

I have learned to keep going higher...go to the "manager" of whomever issued the letter -- tell them the date and time you called (I'm sure they recorded it!)and let them know that the letter was offensive in its' tone and suggestion of avoiding a due debt.

And finally, as you go up! BE CALM and POLITE! Therein you reaffirm that the letter was inappropriate......UP! Everybody reports to somebody...

I would get your insurance company more involved also - they are the ones with the LAWYERS! Same thing with them - keep going UP!! You have a solid argument here - don't back down.

depressionsux said...

What a joke. That company and their customer service is awful! I am mad for you....with you.



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