I Got Sick Last Year


I Got Sick Last Year

It was a mystery disease.  My doctor had no clue. He tired a bunch of stuff and then sent me to a specialist.  Unfortunately my health insurance didn’t cover the specialist so I was required to pay the bill.

I met with the new doctor about 15 minutes. He poked and prodded and that was it. He called my doctor to recommend a CAT scan (my MD had already ordered it) and that was the sum total of his input.

The total cost $300.

The bill ticked me off. Not on did the doctor do very little, but he charged me roughly the equivalent of $600 and hour for his services (assuming he spend another 15 minutes talking to my doctor.

So I decided to protest.  When the bill came, I paid half of it (agreeing that $300 an hour was OK, why I don’t know). When the doctor’s accounting department started to harass me, I told them that I would happily pay the rest when someone called from the doctor’s office and explained why I should.

This went on for six months until the doctor’s clinic turned me over to a collection agency and threatened to ruin my credit.

I then did some research and found the head of the clinic and wrote a letter to him, with a copy of the California Medical Association. A few days later I got a letter back agreeing that I had been mistreated and voiding the $150 remaining. I WON!!!

But did I really.  I didn’t get an explanation as to why they charged the amount they did. I never got any phone call as to my health or concern as to whether they were talking to me or my estate.

The one thing I think this proved to me is that you don’t have to be held hostage by your doctor. Complain, call, ask, demand. and you will receive. Its no different that the guy that screwed up when he fixed your car.

However, if I had had insurance and the insurance paid the $300. Nothing would have happened. The specialist would have continued to over bill. His clinic would have continued to browbeat patients. However, because I was involved in the process, I got the charges cut in half and perhaps this doctor will care a bit more when he sees a patient in the future. After all, my doctor, knowing the entire story, is motivated to find a specialist who will perform differently.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should expect doctors to be omnipotent.  We should expect them to act like honest providers of a service. That’s all.

So, if the free market is allowed to work in health care, health care gets better, and cheaper. If its run by insurance companies or the government, it gets more expensive and doesn’t work as well.

This has only a tangential relationship with parking. If we don’t allow the free market to work in our industry and police ourselves when we do something wrong, then the government will step in and control us. Its already beginning to happen. And at or peril.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. John,
    I think this has a little more than a “tangential relationship with parking”. In particular, when someone disputes a parking ticket, it is in most cases NOT about the 20 or 25 dollar fine, it is one of our customers wanting someone to listen to them and respond.
    Unfortunately, many of our brethren reply to these ticket disputes with a simple “uphold” or “void”. In the first instance the customer feels like his letter wasn’t even read. In the latter (like in your story), you have deprived the customer of acknowledgement of his or her position. As a matter of fact, many people feel (especially with private operations) that you have voided the ticket simply to silence them, this just reinforces their feelings that you are running a “scam”.
    The bottom line is take a few minutes to explain to your customers WHY you are voiding or upholding their ticket. Treat it as an opportunity to educate your customer, as well as yourself. You will be surprised the positive feedback you will get from your customers, even from the ones who’s tickets you uphold.

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