Monday, January 28, 2008

How Insurers Fail to Serve Their Customers

In 2001, a patient at age 22 crashes their car and is found to be in ventricular fibrillation by police who arrive on the scene. Amazingly, patient is successfully defibrillated before being removed from the car. This patient was later found to have Long QT syndrome. A single ICD was placed. The patient did well, but later had recalled ICD battery in 2005, which was also replaced. No problems since.

This patient has been carefully followed every three months in our clinic since. Seen once in 2006 for another appropriate ICD shock.

Lots of visits. Lots of records taken - all recorded on an electronic medical record. Patient is covered by insurance.

Today, a letter arrives from this patient's insurance company:

"Dear Doctor or Provider:

Thank you for your recent claim. We appreciate the opporunity to be of service to you.

Unfortunately, we are unable to process the claim due to the reason(s) listed below:

Date of placement for defibrillator, the MD evaluation of patients cardiac status prior to the date and medical necessity for the device.

Please submit the information requested above. Once we receive the requested information, we will be happy to complete our review.



Customer Advocate - UR0482
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Rockford Service Center
My response:

"Dear Customer Advocate - UR0482:

You call yourself a "Customer Advocate?" How, exactly, does this advocate for your customer? It seems to me that this is another effort to ration care and deny your "customer," my patient, from payment as you promised this individual. Please shove your little computer-generated form letter up where the sun never shines.

You have access to the electronic medical record, as you know, as the patient has granted you access to their record for reimbursement purposes. Please take a few minutes of your precious time to review the record and all of the previous reimbursements you have paid for the indication for this individual's device. The patient's past medical events are clearly documented, as we are required to do each time we see the patient so we can get paid. Further, your attempts to ration care like this and delay reimbursement have resulted in significant legal actions against insurers in other states who have generated similar delays to physician payment.

Sorry I had to notify the world about your lack of "customer service" to my patient.

I hope you understand.


Dr. Wes"


Anonymous said...

Way to go.


Parlancheq said...

Do you really send letters like that to insurers, Dr. Wes? If so, you are my new hero. :)