‘Calling Dr. Bombay!’ St. James Emergency Docs Outsource Billing

I just hung up the phone with India.

I received a phone call regarding a bill I received for emergency room services in February at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights.  When I returned the call, I was greeted by a kind person with a slight accent.  I couldn’t quite place the accent, but didn’t think it would be much of a barrier.

Was I ever wrong.

I read my account number to the person answering the phone.  She asked me for my name, and asked if I had been treated by an emergency room physician.

At this point, I grew suspicious. Any other time I call to pay a bill, after I read my account number, the person finally tells me my name, indicating that they have the correct account.

I asked this professional to tell me the name she had on the account.  She read me a woman’s name.  She asked me if I had was treated by an emergency room physician.  I told her she should be telling me that information, and the name she read to me was not mine, nor did it belong to anyone at my residence.

She asked me again if I had been treated in an emergency room.  I told her, yes, in February.  She again asked me my name.

I asked to speak with a supervisor.  I was told I was speaking with the Emergency Room Physicians billing service, and would I please tell her my name.  I asked her if she was in the United States.  Who is the doctor who sent the bill?

“No, sir.  We are in India.”  And no name for the doctor.

I told her I was unaware of any physician who billed from India.  Could I speak with a supervisor, please?  She asked me my name again, and finally provided me with the name of the attending physician.

At this point, I assured her I was very suspicious of the call, and told her I was going to call the police.  I was suspicious that she was possibly someone phishing for my credit card information. My call was then passed to a supervisor who asked for an account number.  The supervisor told me the name on the account — this time it was my name — and verified for me the name of the attending physician.  I did not recognize the name of the doctor, but, since this was all about a trip to the emergency room, I did not expect that I would remember his name.

I hung up the phone and called St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights directly after trying unsuccessfully to find a number for the doctor online.  After speaking with two business offices and being told my accounts were up to date and paid, I was referred to another number that handled billing for the emergency room physicians’ accounts.

That number belonged to my new friends in India.

Look, I’m all for a global economy, but this is downright absurd.  I get it that sometimes I have to talk to India to get tech support for my PC, but now I have to talk to India to talk about my hospital bill?

Give me a break.