Dear Medical Association Of Georgia: Do Better

Hello MAG. It’s time we had a little chat.

You guys come to the capitol every year, and talk about reducing the burden of regulation on your physicians so they can be free to practice medicine. It’s a worthy goal, one I’m usually sympathetic to. Or at least, I have been.

Do you know where bad regulations come from? They come from upset voters who complain to legislators after having bad experiences. They come from people who feel powerless to stop bad practices and bad management, and want the government’s help to level the playing field.

You guys have some very bad practices. If you’re not careful, you’re going to get more – not less – regulations.

As I’ve discussed here before, I’ve spent way too much time running healthcare gauntlets from November until the end of March. In care for myself, two relatives, and a personal friend, I’ve been through three hospitals, and numerous doctors offices, specialty clinics, pharmacies, and other health care providers.

What I’m finding is that your folks have fallen in love with robocalls. Specifically, these robocalls do not offer the ability to connect to a live person. Instead, after a ridiculously long message, they ask me to call a phone number back if I need to change an appointment, make a payment, or take any other action. Often after business hours.

If you’re calling my cell phone (and I’m dumb enough to answer an unknown number), do you honestly expect me to be able to write down a number on the fly as you say it – once? You’re wasting your time and mine.

What I’m finding specifically troublesome is your collection calls. I’m now getting them for someone that I have never had financial responsibility for. Someone I’ve never signed a payment form for. In at least two cases now, someone I never even visited the doctors office with. ON MY CELL PHONE.

Yes, this person had good insurance and the ability to pay. Yes, I know who the responsible party is, who is now trying to navigate the maze of medical billing and determine who to pay. Yes, I would normally be happy to connect the two parties. But I’m not going to do it when you robocall my cell phone, and don’t have the ability for me to connect that call to a live operator.

Further demerits go to the collection agency for METROPOLITIAN RADIOLOGY ASSOCIATES, who when I called back to talk to a live person, told me their debt collectors’ wait time was extremely busy, and to press # if I wanted a call back in TWO TO FOUR DAYS. You guys deserve to not get paid.

My reaction to these calls is to do this: I’m calling back each one, asking them to remove my name from their call list. Informing them I don’t owe this debt. And urging them to not contact me again or I will go after them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Yes, I would otherwise be glad to help you, but you aren’t willing to help yourself and I’m not willing to do your work for you.

I’m also going to do this. I’m going to be very receptive to any legislator that wants to get some easy public opinion points to outlaw these kinds of robocalls. I’d also encourage any legislation that outlaws these kinds of shotgun collection tacts, where you’re obviously calling any number related to a patient record without any regard for who actually owes the debt.

MAG, your members need to do better. Either you can encourage them from within, or we can be writing about this all the way through the 2018 General Assembly session – and possibly get the Governor’s signature to help Georgians get a level playing field when it comes to your collection practices.


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