How many of us put ourselves in the place of patients when we send them itemized bills that may be in error? Most of us rationalize it by saying insurance won’t be paying all those charges anyway, but what about self pay patients?


Though we’re used to seeing some of the amounts as they pertain to procedures, how is it that we can’t feel what patients feel when they see high dollar amounts, yet we can complain when we go to the gas station to fill up at prices that are astronomical compared to what gas used to be, which are a drop in the pocket compared to hospital bills?

In an odd way, we have come to put ourselves in the mindset that homicide police do in getting used to looking at the types of claims we see on a daily basis. I remember my first year in medical billing, working on inpatient claims, and how I sometimes had issues with the amounts we had to bill on self pay claims. I remember discussions my team leader and I would have as I was distressed at seeing a family being billed when their child had passed away during birth, and how she would say to me that she understood, but that the hospital and the physicians still deserved to be paid for what they’d contributed in trying to keep that baby alive.

We get numb to the shock many others get when they receive bills from either the hospital or a physician, and we forget that, were we not working in a healthcare facility that not only offers pretty good benefits, but extra discounts because we are in healthcare after all, we’d be just as stunned if we happened to receive a bill of the magnitude we usually send out. Even if it’s a small bill, but it’s delayed by months, even years, for us it’s normal, but for our clientele, it’s incomprehensible.

This doesn’t mean we’re in the wrong. What it does mean is that, at some point, we need to try to remember why we’re in healthcare in the first place, even in the billing area. We may not have started out with the idea that we’re going to be in patient accounting, but it’s where we have ended up. We have to remember that we’re as important to the success of the hospital, not only in how accurately we bill, but in how we connect with the patients who call to ask about their bills, itemized or not.

Remember, compassion is never a bad thing, especially when you work in health care.

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