Hospital Charges in San Jose
Update #1

Jed Margolin

Shortly after I posted the article in August 2004 the Daughters of Charity put two collection agencies to work, both trying to collect for the same account at the same time.

This may have been payback for my having filed a complaint against O'Connor Hospital with the California Department of Health Services (DHS). DHS conducted an investigation and determined that O'Connor had not done anything wrong. However, they refused to give me a copy of the report. They wouldn't even let me come in and read it. They said the only way for me to get the report would be to have an attorney subpoena it.

I sent the first collection agency a copy of the article. (They didn't know how to use the Internet so I had to fax it to them.) I told the second collection agency that they had violated the law and to just go away.

Later, in August, I turned the Daughters of Charity in to the IRS. The IRS said they would do an investigation but that unless they took action the results of the investigation would never be made public. However, since the Daughters of Charity get their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status through the Conference of Catholic Bishops I don't expect the IRS will take any action against them. It would mean taking on the Church, and they will never do that. (The Conference of Catholic Bishops does not appear to have any direct authority over the Daughters of Charity, they just allow the Daughters to use the Bishops' tax-exempt status.)

By then the Daughter of Charity had found out about the article, presumably from the collection agency. I found accesses by dochs.org in my server logs for August 26 and August 31. In addition to the article they were interested in my patents as well as "Gas Music From Jupiter." (And some of their machines were running MSIE 5.5 which is extremely unsecure and cannot be made secure.)

A few days later I received a message from Jason Hansen who said he was with O'Connor Hospital and wanted to talk to me. It turned out he was really with the Daughters of Charity Central Business Services. (These people can't seem to keep themselves from lying even when it isn't necessary.) Here is an mp3 (488 KBytes) of the message he left on my answering machine. I hadn't planned on posting it, but in view of later events you will understand why I am doing it. Note that not only did he mispronounce my name, it appears that he mispronounced his own. It really sounds like he is saying his name is "Hansel", not "Hansen."

Hansen gave me the good news that the Daughters of Charity had a new policy for Self-Pay customers whereby we would be charged according to some formula, and that, according to this new formula my bill had been reduced to slightly less than my last non-zero dollar offer (My last offer was for $0.00 and not suing them.)

I asked if this new policy had been made public, and he said no.

I told him that I was inclined to pay it if they made the policy public.

He said it wasn't his decision to make and he would pass it up to his superiors and get back to me.

During the conversation I told him that according to my server logs some of their computers were still using MSIE 5.5 and that its continued use was a serious security risk, and to tell their sys admin to fix it. It is possible that a hacker could use an MSIE 5.5 hole to get into their system and get into people's medical records.

In September, a collection agency for the three Emergency Room physicians came after me. I told them to read the article on my web site and tell the physicians that if they didn't go away I would put their real names in the article, so that anyone doing a Google search for them would be directed to the article. I haven't heard from them lately.

In late September my medical condition deteriorated and in early October I had prostate surgery. I did NOT have it done at O'Connor Hospital. (Big Surprise)

When I was feeling better a few weeks later I called Hansen to find out what the status of the policy was.

He didn't like the idea that I was trying to force them to make their new policy public and he became angry and abusive. Perhaps he was suffering from testosterone poisoning and wanted to show that his dick was bigger than mine. (At that point after my prostate surgery it probably was.)

I then informed him that, since they had violated the terms of their tax-exempt status through their membership in the California Healthcare Association (which sponsors a Political Action Committee), I would go after their tax-exempt bonds.

That enraged him even more.

I called Ms. S. at O'Connor Hospital (who was a lot saner) and, afterward, I decided that if I went after their bonds while I still owed them money they would claim I was doing it to get out of paying them.

So, in order to go after their bonds with clean hands, I paid them the full amount they said they would take to settle all the accounts. They got substantially less than they originally billed me for (I think it was for $4,500). They got less than my first offer ($2,000), or my second offer ($1900), or my third offer ($1600). My last offer was for $0.00. They got more than that, about what they would have gotten from an insurance company.

Now I am going after their bonds.
 

Jed Margolin
San Jose, CA
December 23, 2004


Hospital Charges in San Jose
Update #2 - The Empire Strikes Back

Jed Margolin

I got a call today from CBSJ Financial. As soon as I picked up the phone they hung up on me. I knew it was CBSJ Financial because their name and number showed up on my Caller ID.

I called them back to ask them why they were calling me.

Raymond said it was to collect on a debt.

I asked, "Who For?"

He said, 'The Daughters of Charity."

By then it was 4 pm. Jason Hansen was not answering his phone; neither was Ms. S. at O'Connor. The highest ranking person the operator could find who was still there was the Head Nurse. (I guess she's the nurse in charge of heads.)

Naturally, she couldn't help me.

These people are beginning to irritate me.
 
 

Jed Margolin
San Jose, CA
December 23, 2004


Hospital Charges in San Jose
Update #3

Jed Margolin

In February 2005 I contacted Mike Lapierre, who is the Program Director at CSCDA who oversees their bonds (www.cacommunities.com/contact.html) and gave him the information about O'Connor Hospital.

A few weeks later I received an email from Mr. Lapierre:

Jed,

I received and reviewed your e-mail dated 2/13/05 regarding the Daughters of
Charity.  Please be advised that before any CSCDA bonds are issued, CSCDA
reviews community benefit information and requires delivery of up-to-date
certifications and legal opinions regarding a borrower's compliance with
California law and its 501(c)(3) designation.

We have passed along your e-mail and attached details to Daughters of
Charity representatives and their legal counsel.  No additional bonds will
be issued unless we receive the required opinions and certifications
referenced above.

CSCDA has no membership connection or other role with regard to OSHPD, HCNCC
or CHA, so we cannot direct you with respect to the activities of any of
those organizations.

-Mike


I expect this is like closing the barn door after the horse has run off.

The Daughters of Charity has probably already gotten all of their authorized bonds placed and, with interest rates rising, they are unlikely to want to refinance anytime soon.

Still, if they ever want more bonds ...
 

In other news, the IRS has visited my web site and viewed the article.
 

Even better, Diagnostic Imaging Magazine mentioned my article Hospital Charges in San Jose in their article Hospital Prices Crawl out of the Dark Ages.

They said:

And you should worry not only about what official sites say about you but also about what your patients say. Disgruntled patients have access to all your current and potential customers through the Internet. Bloggers are taking their grievances public, and people are reading their complaints. Check out www.jmargolin.com/ med/charges1.htm to see the level of sophistication among patients unhappy with their care
Coming as it does as a warning to their readers this belongs in the category of damning with faint praise but it explains the large increase in people reading my article. Thank you, Diagnostic Imaging, for promoting my article, but please note that I am not a Blogger and that my article is not a Blog. It is an Article, just like all the articles that you publish.

You can see their full article by going to http:dimag.com/magazines/di/200505.jhtml. It is under Perturbations: Hospital Prices Crawl out of the Dark Ages.
 

And, finally, I contacted O'Connor Hospital in early May to see if they had ever actually come out with their new policy about charging people without insurance. The person I spoke to promised to look into it and call me back in a few days. I am still waiting.

Even if they do have a new policy and give people without insurance a discount I would have to suspect that it is a scam based on the following comparison of rates currently charged by three hospitals in San Jose for Procedure Code 99284, which is only one of many charges you might see on your bill if you have the misfortune to require emergency treatment.

Procedure Code:                                     99284
Description                                            ER LEVEL V
O'Connor Hospital                                  $1,945.00
Valley Medical Center (County)                $1,100.00
Regional Medical Center of San Jose         $1,076.00   (Full price. They give a 50% discount if you pay at the time of service)
MEDICARE reimbursement                     $   118.54   (no, I did not misplace a decimal point)
 

O'Connor charges almost twice as much as anyone else, so a discount would be like a merchant doubling prices before starting a Big 50% Off Sale.
 

Jed Margolin
San Jose, CA
May 22, 2005


Hospital Charges in San Jose
Update #4 – The Doctors

Jed Margolin

I recently went through the aggravation required to get a free copy of my credit report from the various credit-reporting companies. (They are required to give you a free copy but they are not required to make it easy.)

The reason I went through this is because my personal information was on the computers stolen from the San Jose Medical Group in March (2004). A week later computer tapes were stolen from Time Warner containing employee information going back long enough to include me. (Atari was once a subsidiary of Warner Communications which is the Warner part of Time Warner.)

When I received my credit reports I noted the entries from my current and past credit card companies. I also noticed numerous inquiries from credit card and mortgage companies that I have never done business with.

There was at least one item that really caught my attention.

Remember Dr. X, Dr. Y, and Dr. Z involved in my Emergency Room visits to O’Connor Hospital? If not, my experience is detailed in Hospital Charges in San Jose.

When I started getting bills from Emergency Physicians Associates I attempted to negotiate with the doctors but was unsuccessful. Although the address on their bills is in Woodland Hills, CA, when I recently called their number 1-888-620-3100 the phone was answered with "Thank you for calling Emergency Physicians Associates, at O'Connor Hospital."

When their collection agency got especially aggressive in September 2004 my medical conditions had worsened and I was in no mood for more crap from collection agencies. I had posted my article about O'Connor hospital a few weeks earlier where I had deliberately refrained from naming the doctors. I faxed a copy of the article to the collection agency because they claimed they did not have Internet access and told them bluntly to inform the doctors that if they didn't stop bothering me I would name them.

The collection agency is CMRE Financial Services in Brea, CA (www.cmrefsi.com - warning, this web site tends to crash my browsers). They list their phone number as 800-783-9118 and their email address as customerservice@cmrefsi.com

They stopped bothering me so I thought we had a deal.

We didn't.

According to the credit reporting company, the doctors sold their accounts (three, one for each doctor) to CMRE and CMRE filed three deadbeat reports (or whatever they are called) to the credit reporting company who dutifully put it on the credit report.

CMRE filed the deadbeat reports in June 2004. When I talked to CMRE in September in a final attempt to negotiate, they had already filed the deadbeat reports.

And so, here we are.

I understand that the decision of the doctors to sell the accounts to CMRE has no bearing on their medical competence, although in light of the Hippocratic Oath that many doctors still take I'm not completely sure. Here is the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath that many doctors still take when they graduate from medical school. Here is the original, translated from the Greek.  If you read Greek I think the original might be somewhere on this page.

In any event, what the doctors did was a business decision.

So, in that same spirit, and from learning the business lessons they taught me, I am making my own business decision.

Dr. X is Dr. Dennis Belom.

Dr. Y is Dr. Gregory Groetsema.

Dr. Z is Dr. Joan Gates.
 

According to O'Connor Hospital's web site they are still there. Here is the list of Physicians and what they say about the good doctors.
 
Dennis Belom M.D. 
Specialty: Emergency Medicine
Medical School: Univ. of Illinois
Board Certification: Emergency Med
Gender: Male
Fax: (408) 947-2974
Status:Active
2105 Forest Ave.
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 947-2666
 
 

 

Gregory Groetsema M.D.
Specialty: Emergency Medicine
Medical School: Chicago Medical Scho
Gender: Male
Fax: (408) 947-2974
Status:Active
2105 Forest Ave.
San Jose CA 95128
(408) 947-2666
ggroetsema@usa.com
Joan Gates M.D.
Specialty: Emergency Medicine
Medical School: Univ. of Texas - San
Board Certification: Emergency Med
Gender: Female
Fax: (408) 947-2974
Status:Active
2105 Forest Ave
San Jose CA 95128
(408) 947-2666
Bovie@aol.com

 


 

If you want to find out more about any physician you can go to the AMA's web site and just look them up on their Physician Finder (http://dbapps.ama-assn.org/aps/amahg.htm)
 

And, finally, I went to my new doctor last week.

She said I needed an operation.

I said, "Doctor, I'd like a second opinion."

She said, "And you're ugly, too."

{Badump-bump}
 

Jed Margolin
San Jose, CA
June 20, 2005


February 7, 2007
 

I am still alive, more or less, and have found some things that may be useful.
 

According to their 2003-2004 Annual Report the Daughters of Charity Health System (California) has a discount policy for the uninsured.

You probably have to ask for it.
 

And, according to: http://www.hospitalvictims.com/hv_about1.asp :

"Important Precedent. The Daughters of Charity Catholic Hospital chain in
California has adopted a policy giving discounts to all uninsured who have
income at or below 400% of poverty. The uninsured with income above 400% of
poverty are given a price equal to what Managed care would pay. We have on
this website a copy of the Daughters of Charity policy."
If the link to the policy stops working I have mirrored it here.
 

If you have experience with the DOCHS policy, let me know.
 

Jed Margolin
Reno, NV


 
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