In just the last 3 months

since dh was in the hospital, besides all the ups and downs with the urologist billing, I have found on other bills, a duplicate initial visit charge of $370, they couldn’t believe I wouldn’t pay for two initial visits, uhhh folks do you KNOW what initial means?
A transitional charge, like we were moving to a new doctor, only it was to the same doctor we have been seeing for over 30 years.
Medicare not being billed—you want to talk HUGE!
Some small duplicate charges (like I wouldn’t notice two fees for one blood test).
Un unidentified $200 fee on one bill, refused to pay it until they told me what it was for. They eventually backed it off.
And a few other “small” items. My due diligence has saved us a load of money. Read your bills.
I learned to do this when my df died in 1988. I was executor of his estate and in going over his medical bills. I found where he had been billed for meals two days after he had died, respiratory services one full day after he died, medications he never received, therapy sessions he had not had and supposedly he was still sleeping in that bed the day I buried him.
Because of the insurance he had I shouldn’t have even been looking at those bills because he was 100% paid by insurance, but I did and I notified the insurance company, the estate got a little cash as a result, which my db and I split.
Not just medical bills, check your utilities and especially your cell phone bill. I do this on a regular basis because both are really bad about sticking on little extra fees that you have to tell them you don’t want, rather than you have to sign up for it. Since we don’t have charge cards we don’t have to worry about those, but when we did I would find they had suddenly added “insurance” without permission, or double charged us, not applied credits and various other things. So it is very important to read ALL your bills closely.

That just amazes and horrifies me

You are not talking little dollar amounts but huge huge huge bills!
I just ran across an old bill from dh’s where the dr and his two triplets billed us and wouldn’t or couldn’t explain why we got bills from 3 doctors when only 1 was present . It never did get resolved and I guess the good thing was we never paid it and it eventually dropped off.
Made me mad though that every time we disputed the bills they just resent them….like oh you can’t read it cuz it’s too faint ?

BCBS heads up

Some of you already know I discovered that once our deductible with Blue Cross and Blue Shield had been met they continued to disallow amounts saying “applied to deductible”.

For those of you who don’t know our deductible for this year is up from $3,000 to $5,000 per person. Because of dh being in and out of the hospital and having outpatient procedures I knew we would hit our deductible fast. So I monitored where we stood on it on the BCBS website thinking it would help me with the payoff budget for the medical bills. It did, but not in the manner I expected.

After awhile we had met our deductible, but the “applied to deductible” amounts continued. At first I thought they would catch it and correct it, but when the amount was up to roughly $9,000 that had been applied on a $5,000 deductible I contacted them and they corrected it immediately.

I thought it to be a mere fluke and not a problem. HOWEVER, Tuesday I was speaking with one of the doctors that I knew had been paid in full once the amount was corrected to explain to her we did not owe them over $1,000 that they had another check from BCBS on the way.

She said it had came in that day’s mail and we indeed were paid in full with them. What she said next stunned me. She said this was a COMMON occurrence with BCBS since 2013. So…. Everyone who has BCBS if I were you and you had medical that should have met your deductible since Dec. 2013 I would log in on their online site and check how much you had applied to deductible for that time period. You may have been overcharged.

Mortgage payment question

ok, someone educate me please
a 15 yr mortgage would be $720 payment (taxes included)
a 30 yr mortgage would be $560 payment (taxes included)
a $160/month difference
so……if you took out a 30 year and paid an extra 160 a month…it would or wouldn’t be paid off in 15 years?

I have been a lurker in this blog for a while

and have gotten some very good advice. I recently made up a plan to get out of debt for good, which if everything goes according to plan, will happen by October 2016.
Yesterday was my first milestone. I got rid of the overdraft protection on my checking account. This will also save me about 15 – 20 every month not having to pay the monthly fee and interest for being in the overdraft.
One down….. and try Writing Fanatic custom service, three more to go.

You have no idea how bad it is

I’ve only given small details of all that has passed since we first started dealing with them back in January. This is the same business office that insisted we pay $801 co—pay, then couldn’t figure out how much 20% of that would be, then the bill turned out to be less than $400 so even the amount I paid on the co-pay was too high. It has been simply a comedy of errors from the very beginning. I think I could easily get a job there to straighten them out, but I am finished with cleaning up other people’s messes. Seriously. The entire balance due is less than what they were trying to hit dh for yesterday for one visit, a visit I might mention that was only billed to BCBS for a little over $2,000. Cheez. Jan who has said it before and will say it again READ YOUR BILLS in OK

Communication, homework style

One of the early lessons DR teaches is that couples MUST communicate about their finances. This is so true, and it wasn’t until dh and I started REALLY communicated with each other AND ds, who lives here, about our finances we actually made progress on getting debt free.

We went from me spending money on taking care of dmil without consulting with dh or ds to take care of her and putting us further and further in debt doing so. To a complete and screeching halt of that and discussing finances open and frankly that we climbed out of the massive consumer debt we (I) had acquired in an effort to “handle” things.

Once we were out of debt, except for the mortgages—still plugging away on those down to under $50,000 now—we continued to communicate and it is a very good thing we did.

Yesterday dh went back to the urologist for post-op and to discuss the mass the ct scan showed in his abdomen in January with the doctor. Before he was allowed to see the doctor he was sent to the business office like a naughty boy being sent to the principal’s office.

Once there he was informed we were over $1,800 past due on his first encounter with the doctor back in the hospital in January and that we owed that and much more and they needed an immediate payment of a minimum of $2,000 or he couldn’t see the doctor.

However, because I am a math nerd AND we had discussed the bill situation with this doctor—long complicated and a complete comedy of errors on their billing—he KNEW that our total was right at the $1,800 mark period, he knew that we had yet to receive a single CORRECT bill from them and they had only JUST filed insurance so there was no way they could know how much we actually owed them. Plus the fact it had only been 60 days from that first visit and therefore we could not be 90 days past due.

He calmly told the gal he would make his office co-pay, which he had already done, but he would not be paying one penny more until they sent us a detailed complete and CORRECT bill. He also told her if she had any further questions to call me and I would explain to them about our actual liability and their poor billing practices. He saw the doctor, ct scan with contrast will be in about 2 weeks.

He then called me and brought me up to speed on what had happened and I tried calling the business office, but they had already left for the day, 45 minutes early (gee no wonder they don’t get their insurance filed properly).

This morning the gal called me all ready to politely argue with me about the bill and how much we owed. Because dh had warned me of what she was saying I was ready with the single bill they had sent us for $143 when they actually owed us $17.37 at that point, my spreadsheet of what BCBS had paid, what we had paid and a determination to be nice but firm.

She started out the way she had with him, but screeched to a halt when I told her we needed to take the billing step by step, visit by visit. We worked our way through it all and guess what, we are not past due, because we have yet to receive a correct bill, they do not need a payment until around May sometime (they are in the budget to be paid in full May 27th and the woman is now making an apology tour.

Had dh not been up to date on the overcharging of deductible, the erroneous billing with this doctor (they actually at one point returned a payment to BCBS for money I had paid on an outpatient procedure that had not happened yet—figure out the logic in that one—I paid co-pay and they sent it to the insurance company instead of applying it to the bill) and then informed me exactly what she had said to him yesterday the outcome could have been far worse. We will pay the actual amount due, which after we went through it all we came within $2 of each other (I was higher) and be very thankful the kidney stones are gone, $1800 is a cheap price for good health.

The reason I wrote this is to stress to everyone to, like DR, that communication is very important to getting and staying debt free.

Time to talk about smartphone programs

I’ve been mulling my smartphone options for awhile, as my going-on-three-years-old phone has more and more issues. I’m getting messages that I can’t visit certain websites because my OS is too old, I have to restart it frequently because it locks up, etc etc.

I’ve been fairly happy with my Sprint subscription except for the initial lie that the salesman told me, that it would cost me about $75/month when it really costs me $100/month. But it’s stayed level since I bought the phone in 2012. However, Sprint just sent us a big marketing plug where they wanted to “treat us” to a brand new phone for “only” $5 extra on my existing plan. Because they like me. Yea, um, my red flags started going up left and right. If they’re spending this much money and effort on convincing me to stay, what else is out there that has them so concerned I’ll leave?

So I thought I’d put it to the group. What plans do folks have, what are they happy with, what are they unhappy with, and what are my options? I went from a dumbphone, pay-as-you-go approach in 2012 to a smartphone with unlimited text and data, and a fixed monthly charge of about $100. I’d like to know what my options are for my next phone and next plan, and if maybe I can save money in the process. Or, maybe I really do have a fairly good plan already, and should stay here. Thanks all.

Hello everyone!

As you know I have been working my tail off during Houston Rodeo season – but this is the LAST WEEKEND of the rodeo! Almost made it!

I wanted to share some excellent financial news with the group:

1.) With the extra money I have saved from working the rodeo, plus my Tanda pay out in April I will pay off the car note and be auto debt free :-)

–> That puts an extra $318.12 in my pocket monthly

2.) For when the car note is paid off, I got a quote from State Farm to lower my insurance to liability only, which will only cost $50/month. I am a little scared not to have the full coverage, but for now it’ll help me pay down my debts so much easier I have decided that I should do it. I do have a mechanic who works very cheap but well, and I have used him so long if something minor were to happen that would be no problem. In Texas, if another driver were to total my car, their insurance pays for mine. It’s not a no-fault state, so the only way I would be out a vehicle would be if I CAUSED a wreck that totaled my car (so my insurance would fix the others involves, but not mine).

—> That puts $100 a month in my pocket

3.) Got a letter from the bank a few days ago that since I protested our property taxes and won, our monthly payment lowers by $200 a month effective April 1.

—> That is $200 a month in my pocket

Overall – thats ~$600 a month in my pocket, to throw toward other debts. This will substantially accelerate the debt payment schedule I had previously set. Not sure how far ahead it takes us, but we were previously set to be credit card debt free by the end of this year/beginning of 2016. Maybe sooner…

That would leave us starting 2016 with just two bank loans and the mortgage. And the two bank loans would be paid off in around 6 months once the credit cards are all done.

Whew – seeing the light, and its a bright light!!!!!!!

Budgeting homework

Back when we were really battling to get out from under credit card debt I did a very strict budget, made certain we stayed to it and the credit cards slowly dropped off. Since then, well we’ve traveled, had a medical emergency or two and while we didn’t go hog wild and blow the budget I wasn’t real good about actually writing it down and following it to the letter.

With our talk 2 weeks ago about wanting to be totally debt free (meaning both mortgages gone by the end of the year) I spent a good part of last week REALLY working on the budget. I did it the old fashion way, on a pad of paper and with a pen. Added, subtracted, sinking funds, you name it, tweaking amounts right and left to get the biggest savings for our buck. Then I started entering it into my spread sheets for the remaining months of the year. So far I’ve got two months in and hope to finish entering the rest by the end of the week.

Where before I did the budget by the two pay checks a month I am doing this week by week to really help me stay on top of it. Just to be frank, I miss the challenge of getting at least $10 extra on a charge card to bring it down each month. So by doing it week by week I am hoping to put the same type of strategy on the mortgage pay off while still enjoying the 10 remaining trips we have planned for the rest of the year (mainly short weekend hops—read cheap) on paying off the mortgage. I find the challenge thrilling. Man what a Math Nerd I am. LOL!

Anyway, last week, other than the medical bill battles I have I had already reported, was all about 9 months worth of budgeting—thank goodness it’s for getting totally out of debt and not planning a kid—Cheez!

The Three Stooges Strike Again

Eldred referred to the business office at dh’s doctor’s office as the 3 stooges last week, well I think he is right. I told them last week that once they sent me a correct bill I would pay them token payments until May 27th and then pay them off on that date.

So naturally they sent me a bill immediately, uhhh what part of correct do they not grasp? The very first $213 charge on the bill, the first one mind you, has never been filed on insurance! It is dated 1/26/2015. It should be 100% paid by insurance at this time because all deductibles and co-pays have been met since that charge was made. Yet they have failed to file it. Furthermore, they put an unidentified $9 payment on it, no mention where it came from, what it was, whatever. That number matches up with NOTHING on either the BCBS site or their billing, then of course there are the two $35 payments. One where dh paid the “co-pay” which we have since learned he does not have to pay on that first billing, and another one that they have listed as “overpayment by insurance.” Which dh paid. The total of just those errors alone is $238. Plus we have been billed $338 for a bill that was 100% paid by insurance TWICE! Before this is all over I am willing to bet they owe us. LOL!

Needless to say they are NOT getting a check from me today as I pay off some of the medical bills. Seriously, who hires employees like this?