Northwest NEWS

October 12, 1998

Editorial

Late bill results in confusion, collection

   Recently, you printed a letter from a reader regarding complaints and irritation with the now-defunct Medalia Duvall Family Practice Clinic. That letter really hit home! I had my share of frustrations with the Medalia system and was glad to discontinue using Medalia clinics at the end of 1996 and find a new family physician. I had bought into their philosophy of being a wonderful network of providers who were centered on quality patient care and good patient relations and was very disappointed with the system, although I will admit that they had some very good physicians working for them.
  
   I won't get into some of the problems that I had with Medalia in 1996, but I thought I'd left them behind for good until yesterday when I received a letter from an agency called ARstrat (a collection agency?) for an undescribed charge of $75 for one of my children from Medalia Monroe. I had believed that all my family's 1996 medical bills had been paid by early 1997. Every bill that I had received in the mail had been paid. After calling the Monroe clinic manager, I discovered that Medalia Monroe no longer had billing records prior to February 1997 because they had replaced their computer system and sold their computer to ARstrat for collection purposes. She conceded that I was not the only person in this situation. There are two possible scenarios for the origin of these charges.
  
   One is that Medalia billing staff did not post payment to my account even though I did pay it. The other possibility is that I really did owe this amount, but Medalia never sent me a bill for it. I am wondering how many people in the Duvall/Woodinville/Carnation/Monroe etc. areas are getting these letters from ARstrat for outstanding balances from Medalia or are having troubles of a similar nature. I would appreciate hearing from others on this matter. Do other readers have any suggestions?
   Gail McFarland, Woodinville