Or it might actually be a cry for help, as it turned out.
See, I recently had to undergo some medical procedures that I’ve written about.
After they were all set up, I called to double-check that the surgery center I was going to was “in network” for my insurance.
(I assumed it had been since the whole point was that the procedures were covered, but I figured, “Let’s be extra safe.”)
“No, we’re not,” said someone at the surgery center.
Stunned, I called the doctor’s liaison who’d set the whole thing up.
“Don’t worry,” she explained. “If you get a bill, just write ‘Financial Hardship.'”
“Say waaaa?” I screeched. “I’m not doing that! I’m not broke. I want to do this on the up and up. It’s covered in-network, so I want to do it that way.”
She assured me that if I only went along with her approach, any charges would instantly be dropped.
She added that I wouldn’t hear from collection agencies or ever have to worry about this matter again.
“This is how we help the surgery centers,” she asserted.
“Huh? By stiffing them?” I said, incredulous.
“But you still have some coverage from the insurance for out of network,” she explained. “And this way, they’ll at least get paid that much!”
Later that day, I heard back from the insurance person at the center itself, for whom I’d left a panicky message.
“We wouldn’t send you a bill,” assured the woman.
So it was true?
An out-of-network place will not expect you to pay because they’re so desperate that they’re happy to get whatever the insurance provider will pay them?
I’m pretty sure that’s indeed the case — especially since the woman sounded heartbroken when I told her I was switching to somewhere in-network.
What a sad system!