I just got off the phone with Medtronic Minimed regarding a bill for $3,024.50.
Yes, you read that right. THREE THOUSAND. And twenty-four dollars. And fifty cents.
As most of you know, I was approved last fall rather swiftly for a Minimed CGM. This required me to upgrade from my 715 insulin pump to a 722 insulin pump. The pumps look and feel the same, except for an extra menu option which allows me to program and use the CGM. One gadget, two sets. Perfect for a technologically challenged girl like me.
Three weeks after my CGM arrived, I received a statement in the mail from United Healthcare saying that they had paid a certain amount of money to Minimed. But not all of it. The next day, on New Year’s Eve, I received a bill from Minimed. For $3,024.50.
I called up Minimed. I told them that they told me I was approved for a new Minimed insulin pump and that United Healthcare would cover it. Which they sent to me. I told them they told me I was approved for the CGM and that United Healthcare would cover it completely. Which they sent to me. At no point during this two month discourse that I had with Minimed was there ever an out-of-pocket cost mentioned.
So I told Minimed, flat out, that I refused to pay the bill.
“I will send this back before I pay three thousand dollars,” I said. The customer service agent said that he would take care of it and that it was probably a simple clerical error. I was satisfied that it would be taken care of.
About a month later, I received another bill. For $3,024.50. Again, I called Minimed to clarify that I will not pay for this because I’m NOT SUPPOSED TO. So they said, “Okay, we’ll take a look.”
A couple weeks later, I received a phone call at work, from a woman presumably wanting to know why the hell I haven’t paid my bill.
Again, I told her (as nicely as I could muster), “I’M NOT PAYING. STOP ASKING.” Actually, I explained the situation and that someone (two someone’s actually) were looking into this and that United Healthcare was supposed to cover the whole thing (and by the whole thing, I meant the CGM sensors). The woman took down the notes and that was that.
Last night, I opened up my mailbox, hoping that my delinquent 1099s would arrive so I could finally pay my taxes, only to find YET ANOTHER bill from Minimed for $3,024.50. Sensing a trend yet? I tweeted online that I was frustrated that Minimed kept billing me and they couldn’t settle this with United Healthcare. United Healthcare APPROVED this, how hard can it be?! Several other members of our community wrote me back, sharing their own experiences of having post-approval blues.
Because I am an active, conscientious participant in my health care, I decided to give Minimed yet another call this afternoon to see if I could figure out what why progress on the situation was moving like molasses. I explained to the woman – yet another one – that I had received several bills from Minimed after they had declared I was approved for 100% coverage from United Healthcare. She told me that they had noted that I had called in about this and that they were currently discussing the situation with United Healthcare and that it was “Pending”. She said that I could call back in a couple of weeks and hopefully it would be resolved.
Before I hung up, I decided to ask her a quick question that had dawned on me last night as I was looking at the bill. The amount, $3,024.50, seemed strangely high for 3 boxes of sensors and a transmitter after partial coverage (United Healthcare did indicate they were going to pay roughly $1600). I asked her what the bill was actually for – the CGM sensors or the insulin pump upgrade.
She told me the bill was for the pump upgrade.
The UPGRADE? Getting an insulin pump is hardly new! Thousands and thousands of people with diabetes are on the insulin pump. Getting an insulin pump isn’t supposed to require a fight for approval! Are these people nuts? United Healthcare has never even paid for an insulin pump for me. I received my last insulin pump when I was still on my parent’s insurance plan.
Needless to say, I’m rather aggravated and disappointed that what I thought was going to be a seemless, smooth process has had so many bumps. Obviously, I flatly refuse to pay for an insulin pump upgrade. While I know it can cost several hundred to a thousand to get an upgrade before the warranty is up, that certainly isn’t what I agreed to.
I plan on staying on top of this as it progresses. It’s disappointing, too, because thus far I have had such good relations with both Minimed and United Healthcare. Minimed’s pump is wonderful and I wouldn’t switch from it. The CGM works really well for me (I plan on posting a more detailed look into my life with the CGM later next week). United Healthcare has, so far, paid 100% for my insulin, test strips and pump supplies. Except for the $15 co-pay on my doctor’s appointments, I have not paid anything towards my diabetes supplies. I realize how lucky I am. Edit: But United Healthcare is being ridiculous and slow. I realize that this isn’t Minimed’s problem, but it’s frustrating to be in approval limbo even after I’ve been approved!
But that does not mean a twenty-three-old entry-level young woman living in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the world can afford an insulin pump that costs THREE THOUSAND. And twenty-four dollars. And fifty cents.