BY CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT
Quest Diagnostics charged Ro Dobkin an extra $353 for services. Can she get it back or is it lost forever?
Q: I received two bills from Quest Diagnostics for tests that my insurance denied. I paid the bills myself, not knowing that my doctors had already recoded them and resubmitted them to Medicare. Quest used my payments and applied them to all services provided even though Medicare already covered them.
Quest is also sending me a bill for services performed last spring, which Medicare denied. My bill clearly states, “You should not be billed for this service.”
I opened four separate cases but can’t get an answer on the status of my claims. Quest Diagnostics should reimburse me a total of $353 for the two bills I paid. Quest also needs to rescind a bill for $254. I have spent numerous hours on the phone with Quest and emailed them to no avail. Can you help?
— Ro Dobkin, Hanover, N.J.
A: What a mess! It looks like you had a colossal misunderstanding among you, your doctor and Quest Diagnostics. The net result was that Quest overbilled you by $353.
How hard is it for something like this to happen? Not hard at all. I had to get a blood test at a Quest Diagnostics location a few years ago, and I experienced similar chaos. I thought my insurance company would cover the test, but I Quest insisted I pay upfront.
This shouldn’t happen. We need a system that ensures people like you — and me — don’t have to worry about paying for essential medical services. In the last year, I have personally experienced healthcare in South Africa, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates — and I can tell you there’s definitely a better way than how we’re doing it in the United States.
You should be able to show your card and get the treatment you need without having to worry about bills or doctors recoding your tests.
But how do you get a Quest Diagnostics billing error fixed? You can go through the usual channels, asking it to address your problem. And I can see you did that without much success. I also publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the Quest Diagnostics executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. A brief, polite email to one of them might have fixed this.
I contacted Quest Diagnostics on your behalf. A representative responded to you, apologizing for the “challenges in attempting to receive your refund and the frustration this caused.” Quest Diagnostics refunded the $353 as you had requested and adjusted your bill.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help