Archive for January 24th, 2009

Deviated Septum Repair Costs $58,000, Dr. Fees Extra

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Recently an employee took his dependent son to a physician owned out-patient surgery center for a 45 minute operation to repair a deviated septum. This facility was out-of-network (they have not joined any network). Prior to the surgery, the employee was told by the business office of the clinic that his portion of the claim would be about $1,400 (included deductible and estimated co-insurance). The employee wrote the check and the surgery was performed successfully.

The claim was received by the employer’s third party administrator who negotiated the $58,000 in billed charges down to $56,000, and wrote a check for that amount on the employer’s claim account. A weekly check register sent to the employer for review prior to releasing claim checks for that week, caused the comptroller to question this claim as appearing to be too large for such a simple surgical procedure. The claim check for $56,000 was put on hold pending our investigation.

Medicare would have paid the clinic approximately $2,700 for this procedure. In contacting a medical care supplier that supplies this particular surgical center, the sales representative told us that the supplies used in a typical deviated septum surgery such as this one was less than $500.  In contacting the Bexar County Medical Society about this claim, we were told that it was certainly cause for concern and they would be more than happy to have their peer review committee review the claim.  Then we met with the business manager of the clinic, showed him our research, and told him that we would pay him $2,000 as payment in full for his services (employee already had paid $1,400, so with our $2,000 the total payment to the clinic was $3,400).  His response was “we hardly ever get questioned on our bills, and most insurance companies just pay us!”

This is just one example of what we have documented regarding inflated medical billing. What amazes us is that most employers, insurance companies and third party administrators don’t question medical charges and blindly pay claims. After all, it seems, it is not their money and any losses are simply passed on to the employer in the form of a rate increase.