Medical Billing: A warning

Paul H. Rubin —  2 April 2011

Recently the Wall Street Journal had an article about medical billing errors.  These can be very costly because they can impact your credit rating.  But there is one billing practice they missed.  Some health care providers (we have found this with two and it is probably more common) begin the billing date as of the date of service but don’t send a bill until insurance has paid their part.  Then when they do send a bill for the coinsurance  it is “late” and they threaten to turn it over to a collection agency.  In other words, the very FIRST bill you may get already has your account as delinquent.

Paul H. Rubin


PAUL H. RUBIN is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Economics at Emory University in Atlanta and formerly editor in chief of Managerial and Decision Economics. He blogs at Truth on the Market. He was President of the Southern Economic Association in 2013. He is a Fellow of the Public Choice Society and is associated with the Technology Policy Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Independent Institute. Dr. Rubin has been a Senior Economist at President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, Chief Economist at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Director of Advertising Economics at the Federal Trade Commission, and vice-president of Glassman-Oliver Economic Consultants, Inc., a litigation consulting firm in Washington. He has taught economics at the University of Georgia, City University of New York, VPI, and George Washington University Law School. Dr. Rubin has written or edited eleven books, and published over two hundred and fifty articles and chapters on economics, law, regulation, and evolution in journals including the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Legal Studies, and the Journal of Law and Economics, and he frequently contributes to the Wall Street Journal and other leading newspapers. His work has been cited in the professional literature over 8000 times. Books include Managing Business Transactions, Free Press, 1990, Tort Reform by Contract, AEI, 1993, Privacy and the Commercial Use of Personal Information, Kluwer, 2001, (with Thomas Lenard), Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom, Rutgers University Press, 2002, and Economics, Law and Individual Rights, Routledge, 2008 (edited, with Hugo Mialon). He has consulted widely on litigation related matters and has been an adviser to the Congressional Budget Office on tort reform. He has addressed numerous business, professional, policy, government and academic audiences. Dr. Rubin received his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati in 1963 and his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1970.

One response to Medical Billing: A warning

    healthcarethinktank 2 April 2011 at 11:42 am

    Health care billing is bizarre and complex, and health care billing systems are equally screwy.

    The systems require considerable customization during setup, and many times this is not fully completed. This could cause statements to be “held pending insurance” and then sent as delinquent.

    There is NO EXCUSE however, for any bill going to collections without a human review conducted according to coherent policies with proper time frames.

    Another problem is contract billing firms, essentially bulk data processing firms, that do not customize each account properly.