• Report: #442833

Complaint Review: Lee Memorial Health System

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  • Submitted: Sat, April 11, 2009
  • Updated: Mon, April 27, 2009

  • Reported By:cape coral Florida
Lee Memorial Health System
2776 Cleveland Avenue Fort Myers, Florida U.S.A.
  • Phone: 239-332-1111
  • Web:
  • Category: Hospitals

Lee Memorial Health System, Lee Memorial commits Fraud, is deceiving and Treats patients as scum Fort Myers Florida

*Consumer Suggestion: Have heard of this ripoff

*Author of original report: Lee Memorial Health Systems

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In August 2008 I had eye surgery at Southwest Florida Regional hospital (part of Lee Memorial) at the outpatient surgery center. I was given what the hospital costs would be barring complications (there were not any) and told Lee Memorial is giving 50% discount (after the initial "discounts") if I paid in full after the surgery. The 50% discount for self-pay patients was even mentioned in the local Newspaper the Fort Myers Newspress, over several articles written by Jennifer Booth Reed at that same time.

The hospital billed me over $21,000 for their end. Because I have no insurance (a self-pay customer) they give a 20% discount which comes to over $16,000. As a comparison by my own Doctor's recommendation, I called Naples Community Hospital and received a quote for $8374 for the same exact procedure, type of facilities and equipment. This is without any discount. I also contacted a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina (My house is there) and was told the total price would be under $7000 as they bill self pay customers about the same as what Medicare pays. The Charlotte hospital is a For Profit hospital and rated one of the top 100 in the country.

To have surgery in Naples would have required starting with a new Doctor as mine did not have a relationship with NCH. Travel to Charlotte was possible but given I was told about the 50% discount I decided to stay in Fort Myers.

When I called after the surgery on the bill for the hospital I was offered a 20% discount if I paid in full immediately. Since they have added items (not sure where the came from) to the original quote it would put the amount now at about $17,000. When I asked about the 50% discount mentioned in the News press article Tiffany told me she never heard of any such discount. She went on to say if it was not paid in full within a month I would be turned over to a Collection agency. I tried again twice after that and the same response was given. Have been making payments since then but it has been sent to a collection agency anyway. The collection agency tells me they have no record of any payments being made by me (even though my checks are being cashed) and they will not deduct the amount of those payments.

I am being charged more than double what Naples Community Hospital would be charging. Nearly triple what it would cost in Charlotte or what Lee Memorial would receive from Medicare. And everyone else seems to accept near what Medicare pays. This gives me (and I am sure other Self payers) the impression Lee Memorial is trying to take advantage of those of us without insurance. It is little wonder I hear often of people and doctors who recommend going elsewhere for treatment. In fact it was my own doctor who recommended Naples Community Hospital and the hospital in Charlotte, NC (ande other doctors) even though he would not be performing the procedure and would lose my business. My own Doctor also thought Lee Memorial was over-charging me. And when you feel like you are being taken advantage of you really do not want to reward them? I think most in a similar position would probably just make a minimum payment each month or possibly just not pay anything at all.

My Doctor has always given me a discount which just about matched Medicare rates. I contacted the Anesthesia Company. They had sent a bill for over $1500 for their services. Within two minutes of calling them they reduced it to less than a quarter of that amount matching the Medicare rate exactly as long as I paid in full within two days. Needless to say I mailed the check within an hour of hanging up the phone.

Lee memorial states they are losing money. Yet other hospitals are charging legitimate amounts and seem to be able to operate as FOR-PROFIT hospitals. Next time and my recommendation for others who are self-pay is to find doctors who are associated with hospitals other than Lee Memorial. Have since found Naples Community Hospital (NCH) has better facilities anyway and are only 30 minutes away. Lee Memorial and their staff were misleading from the start. They had no intention of ever giving that 50% discount.

I would be more than happy to find a way to pay my debt in full if they stuck to the original intention. I wait for their collection agency to take me to court instead which they seem to be proceding on. I have addiitional health issues which I am gladly paying in cash (Medicare rates) and have done everything to try to resolve this. Lee Memorial Health System's Collection agency (West Asset Management) seems to have no desire for anything but paying an inflated bill. STAY AWAY FROM LEE MEMORIAL HEALTH SYSTEM, LEE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, CAPE CORAL HOSPITAL, SOUTHWEST FLORIDA REGIONAL, HEALTHPARK, GULF COAST HOSPITAL or any Affiliates. They have a monopoly in the Lee County/Fort Myers area and seem intent on using that to their advantage.

Junko
cape coral, Florida
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/11/2009 10:40 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Lee-Memorial-Health-System/Fort-Myers-Florida-33901/Lee-Memorial-Health-System-Lee-Memorial-commits-Fraud-is-deceiving-and-Treats-patients-a-442833. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Suggestion

Have heard of this ripoff

AUTHOR: Cleaner - (U.S.A.)

my neighbor had similar experience. They read the same article and when they called were told the same there is no such discount. Probably a trick to get people who owe them money to phone in. my neighbor has not sent them a dime since.
the article is available on the news-press website. He starts off with this is not a hoax so maybe the author figured many would know it is a hoax. here is the actual article in case you do not have it.

By JENNIFER BOOTH REED

jreed@news-press.com

Here's a coupon you can't ignore: Take 50 percent off the balance of your Lee Memorial Health System account. Act now. Limited-time offer.

No, it's not a hoax.

Hoping to offer residents a break and to collect on $74 million in bad debt, the health system for the next month will cut outstanding bills in half - if patients pay the other half in full.

More than 5,000 patients have gotten the offer, and they're chopping thousands off their debt.

Since the health system introduced the deal a few weeks ago, billing specialists have collected $300,000. Administrators will run the offer for another month, and hope to close their fiscal year in better shape.

The bad debt figures are about $7 million higher than projected, and a business director said money has been harder to collect because patients' budgets are strained. The bad debt figures are from last month's financial report and reflect fiscal year tallies through May 31.

"(Patients') monthly budgets are not as manageable as they used to be. There's nothing left over to pay medical bills," said Billie Jo DeBolt, Lee Memorial's director for business services.

DeBolt scanned through recent accounts: One patient saved $23, another $3,900.

"It was like Christmas morning," said Michelle Meginley, 39, of Cape Coral.

She got a call from a hospital business representative Tuesday inviting her to take advantage of the deal. Meginley was treated at Cape Coral Hospital for a broken rib. She's insured, but has a $2,500 deductible on her plan and about $800 left in her Lee Memorial balance. Money is tight in the summer as Meginley's teaching job - and salary - are on hiatus. Her husband, a builder, supports the family of four during the vacation months.

"I was practically giddy," said Meginley, who was able to pay off the much-more-manageable $400.

Hospitals all over Florida are trying similar tactics to collect on bad debt, said Rich Rasmussen, a spokesman for the Florida Hospital Association.

"Hospitals are seeing both their charity and their bad debt accounts on the rise," he said.

The hospitals are offering discounts and setting up payment plans, he said.

"The hospitals are doing everything they can to respond (to) the needs of their patients," Rasmussen said. "But at the same time, hospital revenues are down because admissions are down. People are delaying their care because they're afraid they can't pay for it."

do you qualify?

Lee Memorial is offering the discount to patients who are on a payment plan or whose bills are due. Those who already qualify for low-income discounts or charity care are not eligible. Neither are people whose accounts have been turned over to a collection agency. If you have questions about your account, call Lee Memorial's business office at 242-6000.
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#2 Author of original report

Lee Memorial Health Systems

AUTHOR: Junko - (U.S.A.)

Was contacted by West Asset Management who is the current collection agency for Lee Memorial Health System. Spoke to Aaron Walker from there who said Lee Memorial was extending "a special offer" if I paid 40% of the balance owed. I asked for a letter that stated the amount and that it would be paid-in-full after paid that amount. What they faxed me did not state would be paid-in-full but only that it would be "40% of my obligation." There also was no signature on teh letter at all.

I spoke to my father's attorney and read him the letter. He said without a signature the letter is worthless. It would have no legal value. Also from the wording they could still come after me for the remaining 60% so they are offering no real deal. They also said the hospital would not extend the deal past monday and so I would have to give my bank account numbers to do a transfer of the amount today. If I mailed a check it would be processed too late for the offer and the hospital would not extend it even an extra day.

I called Lee Memorial billing department and spoke to Marco. He told me there is no such "special offer" being made by Lee Memorial or the hospital. He explained that West Asset might be making their own payment system. I searched the Internet and the Fort Myers Newspress website for information about this offer and found no such mention anywhere. So at least one side is lying to me. Or both.

I have been told by an attorney not to make any payment to West Asset under any of these circumstances. West Asset says they never sign any letters and the attorney said then it has no value. Needless to say I will not be sending any payment whether over the phone or by check to West Asset Management. I recommend that if you are contacted by West Asset you should not make any payment to them unless you get a signed (by an authroized person) letter that states the amount that will bring your account "paid-in-full" and that payment of that amount will release you from any other obligation with this debt.
Lee Memorial just had their credit rating from Standard & Poor's changed from stable to NEGATIVE. It is no wonder given how they do things. Very porrly run. And their billing department rather than try to work with someone who was willing to settle the debt simply passes you back to their collection agency. Do not make the mistake of paying them but still being stuck with the rest of what you owe. Lee memorial Health system does not care about its patients.
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