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Jewish World Review Oct. 14, 2003 / 18 Tishrei, 5764

Mark Bazer

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Consumer Reports

This is not a bill | Dear Reader:

This is not a bill. This invoice is merely intended to confuse you and to provide members of our bill-processing department with something to do, as they never get to actually send out bills. Please make check payable to BlueStar BlueSword. Post office will not deliver without proper postage.

No, no, wait - don't put your check in the mailbox! Whew, we're sure glad we caught you in time. Our billing department just got a little excited and forgot for a second that this is not a bill. Anyhow, if you wasted a stamp due to our mistake, please send us a bill.

All that said, you may still owe provider $93,095.10 Allow us to explain.

The following shows the services provided under this claim:

  • Primary-care doctor looking at injured thumb for 20 seconds before sending you to specialist: $385

  • Mandatory blood-pressure check by primary-care doctor's nurse: $6,532

  • 35-second examination of injured thumb by specialist: $950

  • Mandatory blood-pressure check by specialist's nurse: $6,532

  • X-ray of thumb: $150,000

  • Phone call to tell you results: 25 cents

Total billed (not here, as this is not a bill): $164,399.25

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The following shows the coverage determination:

  • Amount covered: $50,350

  • Participating Provider Option (PPO Reduction): $500

  • Your co-payment amount: $10

  • Amount we like the sound of: $35

  • Amount picked up by that gentleman over there at the corner table: $65

At this point, here's the amount you may, possibly, perhaps, how the hell should we know, conceivably owe to provider: $113,439.25. But hold on - the plot thickens!

We here at BlueStar Blue Sword think that $150,000 for an x-ray of one thumb is ridiculous. Frankly, we've never been so pissed off before. So we got on the phone to your doctor and did a little bargaining.

The following shows a transcript of that conversation:

Us: You're asking $150,000 for a thumb x-ray?

Doctor: It's a good x-ray, man. You ain't gonna find anyone selling 'em cheaper.

Us: How about $125,000?

Doctor: No. That's impossible. I got plenty of people want to buy this x-ray.

Us: I guess we can't do business then. See ya.

Doctor: No, no, wait. How much you want to pay for it?

Us: I told you, $125,000.

Doctor: I can sell you this x-ray for $145,000.

Us: $135,000.

Doctor: $140,000.

Us: Deal.

So, we saved you a little money there. Plus, since you had the procedure done at Carson Pirie Scott, you should open a charge account so you can save 10 percent. If you do, we can say with some degree of certainly that there's a chance you may owe provider that $93,095.10 figure we mentioned to you earlier.

Plus, don't forget, you still owe Mike $30 for a Neil Young ticket in '96. Then again, he owes you $15 for betting on the Bulls to win the NBA championship last year when you were in Vegas. And had you not dissuaded him from fooling around with that girl who most likely had herpes in '97, he may have owed his provider $5,813.

Finally, please be advised: If you neglect to pay for these medical costs, we will exchange thousands of letters over the next three years with the medical facility that performed the above services. You will receive five copies of each of these letters. None of these letters will be bills. Eventually, we will all become exhausted and decide to just forget all charges.

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