Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center Administrator Harold Wallace is urging anyone who has received a bill from the health center that has already been paid to contact him to remedy the problem.
Several St. John residents have complained recently of receiving bills that have already been paid, and some residents say they have been harassed by collection companies attempting to collect nonexistent debts.
“I went in to have a bunch of testing done, and when I went in for the results, I got an $11 bill which I paid right then and there,” said one St. John resident. “A month or so later, I got a bill for the date of the test for $11. I went in to the health center office, where they told me I don’t owe anything.”
The confusion did not end there, however.
Confusion Caused By Billing Company
“I later got something in the mail showing I owe $11,” said the resident. “I have already gotten one bill from a Texas collection agency. I am probably messing up my credit rating right now, but I honestly in good faith took all my paperwork to the health center and tried to deal with it.”
The billing confusion at MKSCHC is likely caused due to a billing company that was contracted early this year to help the health center collect its debts, said Wallace.
“I think what happens is this billing company follows up with people who have already paid, so I think there may be a mix-up, or some type of problem that we need to work out,” he said. “Those names are remaining in the system after those bills have been cleared.”
More Than Half Uninsured
The billing company is being implemented by MKSCHC in an effort to increase the amount of people who pay their health center bills, according to Wallace.
“In the past, individuals never paid their bills, and we had to contract with the company to make sure we collect,” he said. “Here at Myrah Keating, we have approximately 54 to 56 percent of patients who are self-pay, so it’s very important that we follow up on these particular collections.”
Wallace has heard from frustrated residents who have been contacted regarding bills that have already been paid, he said.
“I have gotten word that this has taken place, where individuals have paid their bills,” said Wallace. “We are taking a list of names of individuals who have paid their bills and their info is going to collections. We are trying to make sure they are removed from the list.”
Names Are Being Collected
Wallace has already begun the process of collecting the names of people who have faced this problem, he said.
“We have already gathered some of the names of those who have paid, and we have taken them off the list,” said Wallace. “It’s not like they are going to be pressed to pay twice, and if they do pay twice, they will receive a refund. The main thing is receiving the first payment.”
MKSCHC relies on the timely payment of patient’s bills, according to Wallace.
“The most important point here is we have more than 50 percent of patients who self pay, and collections is a large part of our revenue,” he said. “Contracting with the billing company was definitely a needed process, but as far as making sure individuals are taken off the collections list, that’s a piece we have to correct. If people don’t pay their bills, we have to do this.”
Maintain Proof of Payment
Individuals who are being billed for a service they have already paid for can contact Wallace to be removed from the collections list, he said.
“All persons paying their bills here should make sure they maintain their proof that they paid,” said Wallace. “The only thing they have to do is call the health center and leave a message for me with their information, or drop by, and I will make sure their name is pulled from the list.”
Wallace can be reached at MKSCHC at 693-8900.