As it turns out, reporting the eye doctor to Medicare for double-billing was it. You can do almost anything at a Walmart, except report fraud. Never mind that it was fraud.
I know many seniors don’t look at the volumes of paper they get from Medicare. It isn’t easy to understand, but it does give details of what you’ve been billed for, by whom, and how much you can be charged for each service.
I go through the papers. I don’t read every word, but I scan it all. So I won’t be blindsided by unexpected charges. There are a lot of errors in doctors’ bills. Many errors involve “balance billing,” which is illegal. When you are on Medicare, you do not owe the difference between what the doctor charges and what Medicare pays. You owe the amount specified by Medicare.
Doctors’ offices prefer billing for the entire balance, ignoring the amount set by Medicare. Presumably, they hope you won’t know what you really owe and will pay anyway. I don’t have a lot of spare money lying around, so I check.
I was going through my husband’s paperwork and I saw a charge for $220 for a doctor I’ve never heard of. I looked up the supposed date of the visit on my calendar. Garry wasn’t at any doctor that day because he was at Walmart, getting an eye test. The bill was from a doctor in a different town about 40 minutes away. Garry couldn’t possibly have been there — and I have the records of payment to prove it.
I called the unknown doctor’s office. I explained I’d found a charge on my husband’s Medicare paperwork for a visit to Dr. P. Explained that I’ve never heard of this doctor and it was impossible for Garry to have been there as he was at Walmart getting an eye exam at the time. For which I had receipts specifying time and place.
“Oh,” said the spritely receptionist. “Dr. P is his wife.” As if this explained everything.
Garry paid $110 for his exam at Walmart. Which was full price, no discount. I might have felt more forgiving if the Medicare charge had paid for — or even discounted — Garry’s out-of-pocket costs, but it was just a second bill from a doctor he never saw. I suggested they might want to cancel the charges as the visit never took place. The young woman explained that they always bill Medicare for a visit to Dr. P when her husband has a Medicare client. At Walmart.
That did it for me. I said, “Okay, I guess I’ll have to discuss it with Medicare.” And I did. So the eye guy at Walmart is mad at me for reporting him. I guess Medicare didn’t ignore my complaint. Go figure.
That’s how come I’m banned from the Walmart Vision Center. When the (same?) spritely receptionist called today, she told me the doctor was upset with me for reporting him for fraud. I said “It was fraud. Sometimes, you get caught. It’s the risk you take when you commit fraud.” She said she wasn’t allowed to discuss it. I’m a curious kind of gal. A brief internet search showed Dr. P’s office is closed. I’m surprised he is still working.
I will have to go to LensCrafters. I’m banned from Walmart.