I got an unusual bill yesterday in the mail from SouthCoast Health. It was a bill for some care that happened back in September -- of 2021! My kids are frequent fliers at the emergency room, so I often will pay co-pays without looking at the bill too closely, but something about this bill caught my eye.

It was probably the fact that I owed $187 instead of the usual $35 copay. The first thing I noticed was the fact that the care happened so long ago (over a year ago). It was a lab bill for some kind of test that my son had on his leg. I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was. I called SouthCoast Health billing, but they weren't able to give me much more information about what the test was for or what exactly the injury was all about.

Just before she was getting off the phone, however, the billing agent mentioned something in passing that got my attention. She told me that my insurance company had initially paid the bill, but then took it back.

How strange, I thought.

What would cause the insurance company to initially pay the bill, then take the money back?

I called Blue Cross Blue Shield to find out. While they didn't have any more information about the injury, they did give a clue about why the money was taken back.

Apparently, they had sent me a letter asking me to verify that my son's injury did not happen at work or at school (which it did not). If the injury had occurred at work or school, the insurance company may go after the workplace's insurance company for payment.

Because I failed to reply, they got my attention by taking away the funds, and it was a pretty effective method. I called them in minutes to answer their questions, and I was told that the payment would be sent to the hospital.

My advice is to answer any letters like this that are sent to your home after treatment at an emergency department for an injury. It could save you a lot of money, time and frustration.

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