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Surgery center refuses to send an itemized bill

I had a procedure done at a surgery center in Largo. When I scheduled the procedure, I wasn't told that I would receive bills from the center, the doctor and the anesthesiologist. The surgery center sent me a bill that was also sent to my insurance provider using the same procedure codes.

I called my insurance company to question this double billing but was told it is acceptable. When I questioned the surgery center, I was told both bills were for the doctor's fees.

I don't understand how I can be billed for the same thing on two separate bills. I am paying all the fees I am responsible for except those to the surgery center because it refuses to break down the charges for me.

My question is, do I have a legal right to request a breakdown of any medical charges for which I am responsible?

Lorraine Gaumond

Indeed you do. According to Florida Statute 381.026, Florida Patient's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, "A patient has the right to receive a copy of an itemized bill upon request. A patient has a right to be given an explanation of charges upon request." The law further states that you have the right to receive answers to any of your questions regarding your care in a "timely manner."

I suggest writing a formal request to the surgery center's billing department in which you cite this statute. Mail it certified, return receipt requested. If the center is still not forthcoming, file a complaint with the Agency for Healthcare Administration Medical Quality Assurance Unit by calling toll-free 1-888-419-3456.

Not floored by service

In August 2005, I had Clearwater Carpet and Tile install hardwood flooring in my condominium.

The workers had to remove an accordion door I had separating living spaces, but it was never put back up. I called and called and then a year later, someone finally came to rehang it, but now it's crooked and slanted.

In addition, there is a large gap in the flooring under one closet door.

I think they should replace the accordion door and finish the flooring under the closet.

Anna Patridge

Your contract with Clearwater Carpet and Tile states that the flooring should be installed in all areas except the kitchen and "hall path." Photos you enclosed show the area beneath your closet door is missing its threshold, that narrow strip of material used to transition between different types or levels of flooring. Photos also show the uneven sections of your accordion door dragging on the floor.

Clearwater Carpet and Tile ignored Action's inquiries on your behalf, though someone at the Clearwater location did sign for our second request. You may want to file complaints with the Better Business Bureau and Pinellas County Consumer Protection Agency.

Too late to negotiate

When my garage door failed to operate, a neighbor opened it for me manually and pointed out a plastic gear that appeared to be chewed up.

I phoned the business that had taken over from my original installer. The representative tested nothing but told me I needed to replace the torsion springs in addition to the gear, because they weren't heavy enough. The repairs would be more than $500. As I am unable to lift the door myself, I had him go ahead and do the work.

The next day I called the company that installed the garage door and explained the job to the service manager. He said it was unnecessary to replace the springs, as their needs are all calculated at the factory to match the weight of the door. I then read him the list of parts used and their costs. The man quoted me much lower prices on all.

I feel the technician saw an opportunity to take advantage of a senior citizen who isn't knowledgeable about mechanical equipment.

C.K.

It's a pity you didn't call other companies before authorizing the work from the first. Once an estimate is approved and the work performed, Action cannot ask for a renegotiation of price.

You may wish to contact the attorney general's Seniors vs. Crime agency, which allows any senior who believes he or she has been victimized to come speak to a peer. Senior Sleuth volunteers are often able to prevail in situations where more conventional attempts fail. Call toll-free 1-800-203-3099.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request. Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail; calls cannot be returned. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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