In the wake of the Ballad takeover of regional health care in Southwest Virginia, one would think they would have customer-friendly systems in place to accommodate transferring financial transactions from the newly acquired facilities.

My wife was billed for a visit to Smyth County Community Hospital last October. We paid the bill online through our bank in January. I ignored the next two statements from Ballad; by April, I started calling the only phone number available. I submitted via fax my bank statements, repeated again in May, in June was asked to present an image of the online payment where it was deposited into Ballad’s account, and just now in July I received a collection notice from a Knoxville firm. In July, I was finally told to which specific office the faxes should be sent, to the only number available, and to expect no call-back confirmation. Monthly statements come with the warning: “... you may continue to receive multiple statements until billing systems have been consolidated.”

Ballad is investing mightily in all sorts of promises for better health care, but apparently little to customer service. If their delivery of customer service equates to their delivery of health care, expect to see a continuing diminishment of our most precious gift. Bigger isn’t always better.

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