Q: On April 5, I went to St. Michael's Eye & Laser Institute for a blur in my left eye. It didn't accept my insurance, Humana, but asked if I had a Medicare card. I gave it to the receptionist. I was given three appointments. After tests during the final appointment, I was told my insurance was no good. I had to pay part of the balance by credit card; I still owe more than $300.
My wife and I live on a fixed income. If I had any idea my insurance wouldn't cover it, I would never have made the appointments.
I want them to admit they make a mistake and refund the money I've paid.
A: No refund is coming.
St. Michael's Eye & Laser Insti- tute CEO Susan Holcomb explained that you visited the practice as a new patient. At that time, front desk personnel told you it didn't accept Humana. "They asked him if he had Medicare and the patient presented to them a Medicare card," Holcomb said.
It wasn't until your last appointment that St. Michael's had received several denials of payment from Medicare, saying you were not insured. Payment for the balance of your treatment then fell to you.
Holcomb said you met with the billing manager and agreed to a payment plan, but you returned the next day asking for a refund.
"I personally met with him," Holcomb said. "He was very upset and told me we should have known what insurance he had."
A medical practice is not responsible for knowing your coverage. That responsibility lies with the patient alone.
It is vexing that you were unaware you didn't have Medicare coverage. Holcomb said she sees cases where patients have attended seminars and signed up for private insurance programs that take the place of Medicare. They don't seem to realize coverage can be vastly different.
I can't help erase this debt. But I do hope you'll review your insurance coverage in detail so this won't happen to you again.
Request yields rebate
Q: We purchased a Mustek portable DVD player at JCPenney on Dec. 30 and mailed in the $50 rebate offer.
After three months, we have yet to receive our rebate or even get a response. We've called, remaining on hold for 90 minutes, left messages, sent e-mails and most recently sent a letter. None has been answered.
Can you help us get our rebate? John Burton
A: We contacted JCPenney about your missing rebate. Within a few days we received your note that it had finally arrived, 18 weeks after submission.
"I'm sure the rebate check would have never come without your involvement," you said.
Ease up on the gas
As if we needed another reason to stop aggressive driving, the Federal Trade Commission now says driving "gently" can increase your gas mileage. You can see up to a 5 percent improvement by anticipating traffic conditions and avoiding fast starts and stops. (On the Web: ftc.gov; search "gas mileage.")
Action solves problems and gets answers for you. Write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call, (727) 893-8171, or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request. Complaints can only be accepted by mail. Send only photocopies of personal documents. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.