Great River Health Systems patients receive incorrect billing notices

Thousands of Great River Health patients received telephone calls and emails about their bills late Tuesday morning. Although the communication from POS Corp Inc., of Waterloo, Iowa, is legitimate, some patients should not have received messages.

Tuesday was the first time electronic reminders were sent. Besides reminding patients about bill payment, the notices provide information about payment choices, including a 10 percent prompt-pay discount for bills paid in full within 60 days of the first statement date.

“We had been testing the new system with POS Corp since December,” said Shannon Leffler, manager, Patient Financial Services-Patient Billing. “It worked correctly every time – until we went live.”

Four types of messages were sent. The three mistakes that occurred most frequently were:

  • Final notice messages sent to patients who have been making monthly payments and notices of payment due sent before bills were received
  • Households with more than one patient received notices for each person
  • Notices sent for balances that had been processed through insurance but patients hadn’t received statements

“Some notices are correct,” Leffler said. “If we don’t receive communication or participation from patients or responsible parties within 120 days of the first statement date, balances could be turned over to an outside collection agency. These notices are a final effort to help prevent this.”

Using an electronic message system for billing reminders instead of live telephone calls gives the health system’s financial counselors more time to help patients find resources to pay for health care bills.

“Great River Health has been recognized nationally for providing excellent care to patients,” said Stacey Christensen, director of marketing, POS Corp. “Unfortunately, the work our teams put into launching patient telephone calls failed to deliver that same excellence. Patients can rest assured that both Great River Health and POS will work tirelessly to ensure this week’s errors are eliminated before the system is redeployed.”

A new billing and collection policy began Jan. 1. Key points are:

  • Patients must pay balances in full within 12 months of the first statement date.
  • Patients can apply for financial assistance or a loan through Great River Health Systems’ Medical Expense Loan Program. The program helps patients get unsecured loans without a credit check at Two Rivers Bank and Trust. Loans are interest-free for the first 12 months. After one year, a competitive interest rate is applied.
  • Great River Health will turn over balances not paid in full, considered for financial assistance or moved to the Medical Expense Loan Program to an outside collection agency after 12 months from the first statement date.
  • The patient or responsible party must provide the health system with medical insurance during the visit or up to 45 days after the visit. If insurance is not provided, charges related to those services will be the full responsibility of the patient or responsible party.
  • If you have questions about your bill or payments, please call Patient Financial Services-Patient Billing at (319) 768-3625, option 2.

“We have received and continue to receiving many telephone calls,” Leffler said. “We are working hard to respond to every caller.”