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Payment Delays Put Lives On Hold

Denver Business Journal - by Amy Fletcher Denver Business Journal
March 2-8, 2007
Ruth Freeman ( Lanegan ) runs Advanced Billing Inc. in Calhan, which is southeast of Denver. She testified recently in support of SB 193, which would require Colorado drivers to carry an additional $50,000 in medical and rehabilitation coverage on their auto policies.
She said the current tort system has significantly delayed payments to the physical therapists for whom she works. Freeman ( Lanegan ) submits claims to auto and health insurers and tries to collect money from patients, when appropriate.
Under the new system, she said, therapists are waiting years to get paid, and patients are wondering how to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in medical bills.
"I spend hours just listening to people and hearing their stories," Freeman ( Lanegan ) said. "The patient is crying on the phone saying, 'How do you expect me to pay for this?'"
During a recent legislative hearing, Freeman ( Lanegan ) presented four examples of auto-related claims, chosen at random by her staff, that haven't been paid and which she describes as "typical"
  • $900 from July 2005. The patient's health insurer paid bills at a 59 percent discount, and $900 is the amount the patient owes from co-pays. Freeman ( Lanegan ) received a phone call from the patient's lawyer in January 2007, asking the physical therapists to discount the $900 by another 30 percent. The patient hasn't started making payments yet.
  • $1,600 from January 2005 for care provided to two children who don't have health insurance. The mother's attorney still is negotiating with the auto insurer for a settlement. Meanwhile, the mother is making $20 monthly payments.
  • $4,537 from July 2005. The patient originally thought her auto insurance was going to pay, but then was told her health insurance was responsible. The health insurer asked for information on the claims, which Freeman's ( Lanegan's ) office provided. Those claims were denied last month because the patient didn't receive pre-authorization for the treatment. Freeman ( Lanegan ) is going to tell the patient she needs to start making payments.
  • $750 from May 2006. The patient still is receiving treatment for her injury, and the auto insurer said it won't settle the case until treatment is complete. Freeman ( Lanegan ) doesn't know when that will be.
"These are people who have had their lives turned upside down," Freeman ( Lanegan ) said. "Then they have to deal with getting an attorney... and getting their credit ruined."