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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.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


A Palm Beach County judge ruled against the Diagnostic laboratory company on Thursday. I am highly skeptical about this being a one-time incident. That comes from my being a cancer survivor and some of the battles I've had with medical providers and insurance companies. I had Health Options(Part of Blue Cross & Blue Shield) try to cancel my health insurance for non-payment when I was paid up to date. This was in 1995 and I was undergoing expensive treatments for my cancer at the time. They said it was an honest mistake. In spite of copies of cancelled checks and three certified letters, another 'honest mistake' cancellation letter came again two months later. I went ballistic, calling in the local media and threatening legal procedings against the company. Health Options sent me a letter of apology! So I really have trouble buying Quest's explanations here.

Now Quest is also facing multi-million dollar class action suits because of overbilling and the legal fees it will have to expend to defend itself. What a mess, but in my opinion Quest's woes are self-inflicted.

Open Post- Don Surber, Jo's Cafe, Bright & Early

A Palm Beach County Court judge has issued a stinging retribution against the nation's largest diagnostic laboratory company, finding that the way it bills customers is "unfair and deceptive" and ordering that the practice stop.

The ruling, issued this month, found that Quest Diagnostics not only charged Kirk Friedland more than it should have for blood work done as part of his annual physical, but when he tried to get his money back, the company failed to return the overcharged amount until Friedland filed suit.

"Kirk was incensed by the fact that they would charge this made-up amount and then put the onus on the customer to get their money back." said Philip Valente, a West Palm Beach attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Friedland in April 2001.

In her 10-page ruling, Judge Laura Johnson found that Quest engaged in deceptive and unfair trade practices by making a claim that Friedland owed an amount the company knew to be false and violated a state statute governing consumer collection practices by demanding that Friedland pay money that was not owed.

"Instead of sending (the claim) to my insurer, they charged me the top rate," Kirkland said.

When Friedland, of West Palm Beach, discovered the mistake he contacted Quest and requested a refund, he said.

"The first thing we did was tell Quest if you give him his money back, nothing will happen. They refused and we filed suit," Valente said.

Ten months after his initial refund request and four months after the suit was filed, Quest cut Friedland a check for $260.

Quest, based in New Jersey, performs 250 million diagnostic tests each year. Last year, the company reported revenue of $5.1 billion.

Quest defended its actions by calling it a "billing error" and said the company does not have a policy or practice of improperly billing patients.

"We made a data-entry error four years ago with this one patient. After we became aware of the error through the lawsuit, we reimbursed him," said Quest spokesman Gary Samuels, who added that the company plans to appeal.

Paul Geller, a Boca Raton class-action lawyer whose own lawsuit against Quest is pending in Palm Beach County federal court, called Johnson's ruling "a very strong order" that showed Friedland's case was not an isolated event "but reflective of Quest's standard operating procedure" and that it will provide his case with a boost.

"It's certainly a step in the right direction, and we think it will help us," Geller said.

Geller filed his class action in August on behalf of Richard Goldman, alleging Quest engaged in a practice known as "balance billing."

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

A similar case is pending in federal court in New Jersey.

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