|October 10, 2013
Providence St. Joseph Medical Center responds to balance billing issue
POLSON ó Thank you for bringing this important issue to our attention. Providence Health & Services follows all regulatory guidelines to bill patients only for balances clearly indicated as their responsibility.
We take any concerns with billing seriously and immediately conducted a thorough audit to investigate the issue. In our audit, we reviewed 4,516 patient accounts for $2,834,640 of services provided in 2013 where the person identified him or herself as having Indian Health Service (IHS) coverage at Providence St Joseph Medical Center.
Of the 4,516 patient accounts, our audit revealed that 61 accounts included bills to IHS patients. Of these 61 patient bills, 32 were billed correctly to the patient, but 29 were sent in error, with a total of $271 paid by patients in error. . Refunds totaling the necessary $271 have been processed to those who paid, and those patients should receive a refund in the next two weeks. We have made sure that the incorrect statements did not affect any personís credit history.
The 29 incorrect statements were due to human error when a correct procedure was not followed. We have provided education and retraining to staff so that this situation does not happen again. Also, all patient statements for IHS members have been paused so we can confirm our training and processing will prevent this error in the future. We will conduct the same audit for all 2013 services at Providence St. Patrick Hospital.
Since there are times IHS members do owe balances to Providence, it is important members do not disregard any bills they may receive. If you have any questions about a bill from Providence, please contact us.
We deeply regret these errors as they are in conflict with our values of respect and excellence. We understand the worry and frustration these problems present to our patients and for that you have our sincere apology. We set the highest standards for ourselves and for our ministry, and we are committed to correcting these issues.
If a patient or family member has any questions about this situation, please contact our Customer Contact Center at 1-866 747-2455.