Health makes me sick

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

Damn, I hate the medical industryalmost as much as I hate the power utility. Imagine, there's a law that allows the power company to tell me how many solar panels I can put on the roof of a house I own. If you have any question about who runs this country, let that sink in.

Anyway, I was minding my own business last week when I got a call from a collection agency representing Reno Emergency Physicians. This shitty human being started berating me about not paying my bills. I take paying my bills very seriously, and I have a well-over-700 credit rating. I can basically borrow any amount I might need, and except for the mortgage and student loans, I have less than $100 in credit bills. Not monthly, total.

I'd never seen a bill from Reno Emergency Physicians. Or, let me put this more accurately—if I have seen one, I haven't seen one since the month after I had the Bell's Palsy (that weird episode where my face was paralyzed) back in August. Often, you'll get a first bill or even a second bill from a medical facility before the insurance pays it off. And even then sometimes it's a battle.

The caller hung up on me and then two minutes later called my office number. I picked up, and I heard her say, “If he answers ‘This is Brian,' hang up.” Basically, I'm guessing they were just making sure the phone numbers I gave worked before the real harassment started.

A couple of weeks ago, I got another bill from St. Mary's that said something along the lines of, “After a recent audit of our system, we realized you owe us an additional $700 bucks.”

I called my insurance company and checked on both bills. The “audit” was actually the amount of my copay for the emergency room visit, 20 percent of the total from hospital's charges. Remember, each outfit has its own charges, like the Reno Emergency Physicians.

I'm a generally lucky guy. I have OK insurance, and I live a simple lifestyle so my emergency care won't bankrupt me. This mistreatment isn't the exception—it's the rule.