Recently, we were billed for some testing services from LabCorp. We are uninsured and had been given discounts at our local hospital and with our local attending physicians. The bill that we got originating from LabCorp under their subsidiary, Integrated Oncology, was in the amount of $10174.00 for a single series of medical testing. Whenever we called them, at first we couldn't get anyone to answer the phone or kept being placed on hold for unreasonable amounts of time. Finally whenever we did manage to get someone in their billing department, we were offered 40% discount right off the top. That was still more than we could afford so they offered a 60% discount. This put the bill at roughly $4000.00. Still a very unmanageable amount after having recently paid out of pocket hospital bills and other medical fees. In addition to this, there were two accounts even though there was only one service date. This, we later learned, was so that they could scam us by telling us we had to make a minimum payment times two. A payment for each account.
After making an offer to settle the account that was very much in line with the current market rates for the services on the bill and being told that they would return with an answer on that. We did not hear anything from them and were unable to get an answer for over a month. By this time, we were already 3 billing statements in on their billing process. It was understood that we were negotiating payment on the accounts at that point. Why they continued billing us for the original amount after the fact that they had already reduced it by 60% is beyond me.
Finally, they told us that they would settle both accounts for $3200.00 and claimed that this amount was as low as they could discount the original bill because that was the bottom of Medicaid's benchmark rate. I questioned this having already located that rate which placed their benchmark well below that price. Medicaid price ranged from $1100.00-$2300.00. Whenever I asked for their source so I could review it and check for accuracy, they declined to provide it. When I provided them with mine, they said they'd call back. The next day, they called back with a new offer of $1564.04 payable in 24 monthly installments of about $65.00 a month to settle both accounts.
I asked them to put this offer in writing but they refused. I asked them to place our account on hold. They complied with this but still continued sending out billing statements threatening to turn our account over to collections if we didn't pay. These statements still reflected the original $10174.00 amount, unadjusted. After about 2 weeks of demanding a written offer with the threat of non-payment, they finally agreed to send that offer in writing. I should note that during this process, they were asking me to verbally agree to this offer, they kept changing that offer, the payment rates, the terms, etc. This is why I wanted it in writing.
Once I got said agreement in writing, just as I had suspected, they had added in a few extra items that we never discussed such as:
1. If you do not make monthly payments, the account will be turned over to collections
2. If you fail to agree to this offer, your account will be turned over to collections.
On the bottom of the letter, were several other contradictory statements not to mention the fact that it was like pulling teeth to get Integrated Oncology/LabCorp to comply with their own policies as written under the heading "Payment Plans" on their corporate website, which states "The patient will receive a statement of the payment plan schedule and the scheduled payment amounts until the balance would be paid off. There are no fees or interest charges for this program."
That being said, I have to think that they were in fact trying to scam us because we didn't have insurance by charging us a very inflated amount of money for their services and then attempting to extort money from us whenever they tried to threaten us with collections if we didn't agree to their payment plan.
Subsequently, their billing statements had no due date.
My last issue that I'd like to point out is now we have an original bill showing $10174.00 as the original balance, we have a new offer showing $1564.04 as the reduced balance. The latter is closer to what an insurance company would have paid on their services. This is roughly an $8600.00 discount because we refused to pay inflated prices for medical testing. If we had paid it, where would it have went? Why do they have this much room to play around with everyone's wallet when it comes to medical billing? Why can't they offer services at reasonable prices? It's because they want to steal your money. Another little known fact is that their phone reps get commission if they get you to bite on their 40% and 60% off deals because that means LabCorp gets to set you up on a payment plan to shark you for more money than if you just don't accept their initial offers or if you just don't realize that you will be paying more than an insurance company. After that, it begins to get close to their profit margins...you can always tell this whenever you get their managers on the phone and they start saying Corporate won't let them do this, that or the other and then can't provide you with any corporate contact information to back this up (that's also available on their website!)