Quest Diagnostic and billing practices
IRVING, TEXAS -- On June 10, 2009 my Physician insisted I have lab work done and he sent me to Quest Diagnostic - lab was in the Physician's office. I had my lab work drawn under very uncomfortable circumstances with no observation of HIPPA privacy requirements. People could hear my private information as well as see me getting my labs drawn and I could see other people getting their labs drawn and hear their private information too.
The 2 lab techs changed gloves but at no time did either of them do any hand hygiene whatsoever... yuck! I actually asked the one that drew my labs to please wash her hands before setting up any of my supplies. This got a very rude response and scowl from the lab tech. I also noticed that there was no decontamination of any of the surfaces where the blood was actually drawn – between patients. This is a serious breach of OSHA and other regulations for infection prevention. Surfaces should be wiped with an antimicrobial solution between patients (draws).
Months after the lab work I received a very rude letter from Quest Diagnostic requesting immediate payment saying it was the 2nd billing request. My medical insurance has a system where they pay the provider directly and then I pay the difference. I did not receive notification from my insurance company until late August that the lab bill had even been submitted and I certainly did not receive any bills from Quest Diagnostic until September, their invoice is dated September 6th. The bill was for $873.98. I noticed that Quest discounted the fees as "insurance discount" by $688.85 and my insurance paid only $28.16 of the bill leaving me $156.97 as my responsibility. This was a 78% markup. Wow!!!
I paid the bill in 2 installments but for months afterwards I’ve tried to get Quest Diagnostic to send me a finalized statement showing that I’ve paid off the bill so I can submit it to my flex spending account for reimbursement. A number of people I’ve spoken to at Quest Diagnostic told me it was mailed but I still don’t have it. I’m fed up with calling, getting put on hold, transferred and having different stories. I’ve wasted hours of precious time on this. They are very efficient at mailing a customer numerous reminders and accusatory letters of non-payment but not a final statement to show the bill is paid.
At a time when healthcare reform is under the microscope and we are, as a nation, wondering why our costs are through the roof, I can only shake my head in disbelief that a provider feels it is ethically okay to charge 78% above the insurance company "special agreement" fee and accept such a huge reduction. Either the fee is too high or there is something else going on that is a questionable practice. What ever happened to honest, reasonable charges for services rendered? People who legitimately cannot afford health insurance would be forced into paying the high charge on this type of billing whereas the insurance company “deal” leaves the patient to pay the majority of the cost.
As a consumer, I’m fed up with these types of billing practices and the way health insurance companies claim they provide a member with full coverage yet weasel out of it by making so many exclusions that one ends up with hardly any coverage and is still left to pay the full price for their premium.
I will never use Quest Diagnostic at this location again