LabCorp lost her blood. Why didn’t it lose the bill?

LabCorp lost her blood sample and then sent her to collections.

Fei Yu’s blood work should have cost just $5. So why is she dealing with a collections notice for $500?

Question

I recently had lab work done by LabCorp. I called my doctor two weeks later to get results. The office never received my blood work.

Finally, LabCorp admitted it lost my specimen. By then, my Blue Cross health insurance had expired.

LabCorp not only lost my sample but also sent me a $272 bill. My Blue Cross copay was $5.

I’ve tried to get this resolved, making numerous calls to Blue Cross, to no avail. LabCorp lost my specimen and has now called a collection agency, which wants me to pay more than $500. Can you help?

Fei Williams-Yu, Dacula, Ga.

Answer

If LabCorp lost your blood, at least it could have lost your bill, too. I mean, come on. If this isn’t a cautionary tale about the dysfunction in our health care system in the United States, I don’t know what is!

Health insurance companies want to stop paying their bills the moment your policy runs out, even when their obligations haven’t expired. I know that from personal experience.

If LabCorp didn’t provide the service, you shouldn’t pay. And even if you should pay, you’d only owe $5.

A lot of things went wrong with this case — most of them entirely unavoidable by you. Let’s look at each one individually.

What to do when LabCorp loses your blood

If LabCorp lost your specimen, you should have returned to your doctor’s office to take a new test. Your doctor should have informed Blue Cross and LabCorp that you needed to redo the test and the reason for it.

It’s unclear from your paper trail if that happened or if you followed the correct steps. It’s possible that with your insurance about to expire, you moved on to a different provider without giving your previous doctor, insurance company and testing service an opportunity to fix the problem.

When my advocacy team circled back with you for more information, you said you’d been in touch with all three parties by phone. Blue Cross had promised to send messages to “supervisors” asking for help. But you never saw any of those emails.

How to handle a complaint about lost blood

We don’t list executive contacts for Blue Cross. It hardly matters — the company exited the Georgia market around the time of your complaint.

Also, the site is a black hole for complaints. I know because I used to be a Blue Cross customer when I lived in Florida. It takes money and denies claims. I’m still unhappy about that $500 ambulance bill when my son broke his arm.

And calling a collection agency? It’s easy to take that personally, but chances are, it’s automatic. No one at LabCorp gleefully pushed a button with the intention of punishing you, although it certainly feels that way.

When you contacted my advocacy team, our executive director Michelle Couch-Friedman, reached out to LabCorp on your behalf. LabCorp apologized, agreed to drop its collection claim and sent you a bill for the correct amount.

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