This is a post I’ve been putting off

I wrote it about three weeks ago, but I’ve been putting off posting it because I don’t like conflict. I did promise these people that I’d post about it, though, and now that the doctor has told me to start walking without the support boot, it’s time and past time.

Now that my broken ankle is healing, I’ve been wearing a boot for support. The boot was supplied by Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment, and they’ve sent me an invoice for $240.92. I called them last week to see if I can get a discounted price, because I don’t have medical insurance. Most places will give discounts to people without insurance, because there’s less paperwork involved, and my understanding is that the payments tend to come through more quickly if an insurance company isn’t in the middle of the process. I couldn’t get an answer when I called, because the manager (whose name I wasn’t given, and forgot to ask for) was out of the office that day, and all discount requests had to be approved by the manager.

I heard back from them Friday, to the effect that the price quoted in the invoice already included a 15% discount. I find this difficult to believe, because of the evidence shown in the following two pictures.

Ortho price list

Part of the bill

I scanned these from the invoice package. Note that the price of the “walker boot” on the form in the first photo is what I was invoiced, and note that there is no entry in the area provided for “discount” in the second photo. I suppose it’s possible that the price list I saw at Dr. Shannon’s office is a custom one specifically for people without medical insurance, but how likely is that? I’d say there’s zero possibility, since another part of the form talks about what may or may not be covered by insurance. Wouldn’t you expect the invoice to show the original price and the discount? I certainly would. And how hard is it for them to determine whether an invoice has had a discount applied? I see three possibilities here:

1. The price includes a 15% discount that is not noted on the invoice, and I was shown a custom “discounted for no insurance” price list.
2. The price is not discounted, but they presumed it is because I asked about it, and they didn’t bother checking the invoice.
3. The price is not discounted, but they told me it was so they could get full payment.

The billed price is troubling to me, because I found the exact same boot available online for $79.95. I realize that things are normally cheaper online, but by a full factor of three? I was presuming that the invoiced price was the full retail price, and felt that if Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment provided me with the same 40% discount that both Dr. Shannon’s office and the hospital have already provided me, then the price would not have been tremendously out of line. Presuming about $20 shipping costs (which is probably high) for the online purchase, a 40% discount would have made the prices about $140 versus about $100. This is still a significant difference, but justifiable.

If the quoted price is already discounted by 15%, then their retail price is more than $280, well over three times the cost to purchase online, possibly even including shipping. This, to me, is unreasonable, if not unconscionable. Either Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment is price-gouging, or their overhead costs are so high that it’s obvious that they don’t know how to run an efficient business. Not to mention that their staff appears to be dishonest, clueless, or lazy.

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