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Former SimonMed employee speaks out about billing practices

Money Cash AP
Posted at 4:47 AM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 10:22:54-04

Forced to pay when nothing was owed, The Let Joe Know team has heard from several people across the Valley saying they had to wait months for SimonMed to refund their unnecessary payments. Now, a former employee is speaking out about their policies and why she finally quit.

"I've worked there for a little over a year and a half," said Rhonda Hannah.

She says during her time there, she saw enough that made her never go back.

"I just do not agree with the way they practice there at all," said Hannah.

SimonMed had more than 60 Arizona locations for MRIs, ultrasound, X-ray, and CT scans. In August, we started looking into their billing practices.

READ MORE: Valley medical provider says to pay up even when nothing is owed

A growing number of patients let us know they were forced to pay SimonMed out of pocket even though their insurance should cover the whole bill.

SimonMed patients covered by insurance but told to pay

"I'm not understanding why I'm still paying $400 for the procedure with my hip injection when my bill says I'm only responsible for $126," said Glenna Thew, who was one of those viewers.

Hannah says audits were done throughout the day and if it was shown that someone didn't make a payment, even if they were just there, it became a priority, no matter how little the amount.

"I once had to call a patient because they owed $11, that I didn't collect it," said Hannah.

We asked SimonMed to respond to Hannah's concerns and our questions. They declined an on-camera interview, but in a statement said, employees "are trained and equipped with resources to ensure they are comfortable with their job responsibilities" which include "collecting fees." SimonMed also said, "if this process is not followed... further training may be appropriate."

Hannah says her training did not involve insurance.

"I never had official like insurance training or any of that. I just read what, what's in front of me," said Hannah.

The most common complaint we received from more than a dozen viewers involved insurance copays demanded upfront.

RELATED: SimonMed patients covered by insurance but told to pay

We asked the company if they have investigated their system to make sure payment estimates were accurate. They did not respond to that.

In their statement they say, "information relayed and co-payments collected during appointments is based on the accuracy of the information received prior to the appointment."

Read SimonMed's full statement: 

For over 25 years, SimonMed Imaging has offered Arizona residents access to comprehensive, affordable, advanced medical imaging in an outpatient setting.  Patients are afforded an opportunity to receive imaging with the most advanced technology, while avoiding hospital visits and hospital pricing for these service. Patients have an option to visit a SimonMed facility or any other outpatient facility or hospital of their choosing.  SimonMed provides patients with price transparency as well as estimates before their appointment. Estimates are based on the information provided by the patient, referring physician, and the insurance provider.  Information relayed and co-payments collected during appointments is based on the accuracy of the information received prior to the appointment. Once a claim has been sent to insurance, it can take months for the insurance company to complete the process. When adjudicated and if a refund is due, the refund is either credited back promptly to the patient’s credit card or a check is issued to the patient.  In addition to price transparency, SimonMed provides interest free payment options for those who need assistance. In an effort to further serve the Arizona community, SimonMed donates millions of dollars in free imaging annually to help patients access the care they need but often cannot afford.  Additionally, SimonMed provides an opportunity for women to receive a mammogram during the month of October for only $50, saving them hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the potentially life-saving screening.  Many Arizona residents would otherwise forego their annual mammogram screening due to lack of insurance or ability to pay.  SimonMed remains the most affordable imaging center in Arizona.  

Employees of SimonMed are trained and equipped with resources to ensure they are comfortable with their job responsibilities, while delivering a great patient experience. If a patient has questions about co-pays and insurance coverage upon arrival at the office, SimonMed employees can contact our Patient Financial Services department to re-verify the insurance coverage and confirm the patient’s out-of-pocket cost.  We understand that there can be confusion and frustration around this process as patients are waiting and our staff is working hard to assist them.  As with most medical facilities, it is usual and customary for co-pays to be collected upon service and part of the function of the front office employee is to collect the fees due.  If this process is not followed, SimonMed employees will be informed of the policy and further training may be appropriate. 

With any medical visit, show the office your policy involving out-of-pocket expenses. If you have a grievance, file a complaint with your insurer so they can investigate.

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