noembed noembed

Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Class Action lawsuit versus Quest Diagnostics

A Boca Raton lawyer has filed a class action lawsuit against the diagnostic testing company. Plaintiffs are claiming Quest balance bills patients.

I've gone to Quest Diagnostics myself in the past but not recently. My health plan don't use them but when it did I never had problems.

If you read my blog before, you know I'm a cancer survivor. Over the 12 years I fought Malignant melanoma I can count the times on one hand(and have fingers left over) that I been balance billed by anyone. A short phone call has always cleared the matter up.

See my insurance sends explanation of benefits for all doctor and hospital care and any testing I have done. If I see a strange bill, I double check it. Mr. Goldman if don't get such explanations, could have called his insurance company or even checked online to verify it.

Do I think Quest did it? It's possible is all I will say. I just don't how much a class action suit will help any plaintiffs. These suits I always felt benefit the lawyers involved not their clients. I doubt the suit against Quest will be any different.

By Susan Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

BOCA RATON — For five years, Richard Goldman received and paid bills Quest Diagnostics sent him for laboratory tests, even after his insurance company paid its portion of the bill.
At first it was a few dollars here and there. But recently the bills grew to hundreds of dollars.

The Boca Raton attorney wrote to the company and informed them that what they were doing is called "balance billing" and that it's illegal. When he refused to pay any more, Quest threatened to send his case to a collection agency, he said.

"I gave them every opportunity in the world to cure the problem, and they didn't," Goldman said. "That's when I said it was time for me to speak with the guy who does class actions."

That guy is Boca Raton class-action attorney Paul Geller.

Last month, Geller filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in West Palm Beach against the nation's largest diagnostic laboratory alleging the company "balance-bills" patients.

A health care provider balance-bills when it charges a patient for the difference between the rate it negotiated with a managed care provider and the amount it normally would charge. In most cases, the negotiated rate is one-third to two-thirds of the health care provider's usual fee.

Quest Diagnostics, with corporate headquarters in New Jersey, performs 250 million diagnostic tests every year. Last year, the company reported revenues of $5.1 billion.

This isn't the first time the company has been accused of balance-billing.

A similar class-action lawsuit filed last year is pending in federal court in New Jersey. The case includes collection agencies that Quest used to go after patients and claims that the company not only balance-bills but double-bills patients, sending them invoices after it has collected from insurance companies.

Last year, New York's state attorney announced the settlement of an investigation into balance-billing of consumers in that state. Quest agreed to stop and provide restitution to 10 consumers who filed the complaints, according to company spokesman Gary Samuels.

In March 2004, Quest agreed to pay the government nearly $11.4 million to settle allegations that one of its subsidiaries and two of its predecessor companies defrauded the United States by improperly billing Medicare and performing medically unnecessary tests at several of its labs across the country.

"We think this is a widespread practice," class-action attorney Geller said. "These companies make enormous profits by doing this."

The company disputes his claim.

"We generate thousands of bills every day throughout Florida," Samuels said. "My understanding is that one patient in Florida has a billing dispute regarding testing we performed in 2004. We have promptly investigated and addressed all complaints brought to our attention, and we expect to do the same in this case."

Geller filed the class-action lawsuit on behalf of Floridians, but he might expand it nationwide.

"Every Tom, Dick and Harry I speak to, they all say the same thing: 'Wow, that happens to me,'" Goldman said.

"Everyone just sweeps it under the rug and pays. I got tired of sweeping."

Listed on BlogShares