How was your experience with Beth Rackow at Columbia University?
I don't know if Dr. Rackow is really familiar with many of her patients' cases/treatment progress. She was seldom available and I only managed to see her once. Again, I feel that fertility treatment protocols are quite individualized and it is very hard for me, as a patient, to just see whomever is available that day and you can tell they just literally just flipped through your chart moments prior and are now going to decide the course of your treatment. It might be okay with some people, but since I was paying fully out of pocket I was not going to take that gamble.
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with Beth Rackow at Columbia University?
At my first appointment, Dr. Rackow was more than 2 hours late. She apparently had an emergency at the hospital. I understand OB emergencies happen and as a health care provider myself, I know it happens. What I don't understand is the front desk staff, they knew she was running late when I checked in but never said anything. It was only when I overheard the front desk telling other patients to either wait or reschedule that I went up to the front desk myself to inquire, since I had waited nearly an hour by now. At this point they told me that I actually hadn't been waiting that long because they allow 45 minutes of the new patient appointment for us to fill out paperwork. I'd never heard of this and I've never needed 45 minutes to fill out new patient paperwork. They then basically said I could come back another day or reschedule. Dr. Rackow's schedule is not very frequent and I had already canceled my patients for the day to see her so I opted to wait, I got lunch at Whole Foods and then came back to the appointment. The entire time the front desk seemed to not care and never bothered to inform me that she was going to be in late.
I stayed to Columbia against my better judgement (I also trained there so I guess I felt some sense of loyalty), but after the cattle-call morning monitoring visits where I without fail would have to wait nearly an hour and a last minute appointment cancellation by Dr. Rackow, I left the clinic after finishing the infertility/RPL workup. I could not even get a follow up to discuss the results because Dr. Rackow is just never there. I had it with Dr. Nataki Douglas. I made the appointment for first thing in the morning to minimize wait time. At 20 minutes past my appointment time, I saw Dr. Douglas and some staff roll in the office with coffee and doughnuts, apparently they had gone out to get coffee and no one seemed to care that there were patients on the schedule.
That really solidified it for me. Since I was paying fully out of pocket, I felt I couldn't do treatment at Columbia because it just seemed like no one cared at the office. To me, fertility treatment is quite individualized and when I finally saw Dr. Douglas, I could tell she just read my chart right before the appointment and offered standard treatment options without taking my medical history into consideration.
Describe the costs associated with your care under Beth Rackow at Columbia University.
My insurance only covered up through diagnostic testing. I left after the diagnostic testing. Did not start treatment at Columbia. Little did I know I would be haunted by billing issues for another 9 months.
PLEASE CHECK YOUR BILLING STATEMENTS!! I will highlight 2 issues:
1.) On my first visit with Dr. Rackow, as you see from above, was delayed greatly, and Dr. Rackow spent approximately 30 minutes with me going over my medical history and then suggested some lab tests. I was then shuttled off to speak with a nurse who went over when I was supposed to come in for baseline bloodwork, since I was an IVF newbie. Imagine my surprise when I then got a bill from Columbia for $404 for a 60-minute office visit with Dr. Rackow. They billed under code 99205, look it up if you're curious but I guarantee you the criteria under which the clinic was allowed to bill under that code did NOT happen at my visit. Obviously I did not "clock in" or "clock out" the visit but honestly the least amount of time I spent at that office was the actual appointment with Dr. Rackow. When I called the office to inquire, the billing department said they would speak with her and get back to me. They actually did call me back, only to tell me that Dr. Rackow said she had spent a significant amount of time that I was definitely there for an hour. I'm not even sure if Dr. Rackow remembered me as a patient and I thought it was pretty impressive that she remembered how long she spent with me. The ironic thing is when I had another new patient consult with my current RE at another clinic, I was bracing myself for another $400 visit. My new RE saw me on time, ACTUALLY spent over an hour for the visit, and the office only billed my for a 45 minute visit, which was only $118 out of pocket for me.
2.) I was double billed by Columbia for lab tests. Columbia did the blood collection but the analysis gets sent to another lab, typically Enzo Labs. There was a lag by Enzo labs for some genetic tests since they had to verify some things with my insurance so I got the lab bill from Enzo almost 9 months (yea....) after the date of service. I cross referenced it with the bill from Columbia for the same date of service, which came shortly after the office visit to draw blood (sending out bills is one thing they are not slow about), and noticed that Columbia had billed for the blood collection, as well as for the analysis of 3 hormones, under the same code as Enzo Labs, who actually did the analysis. I could not believe I had to call Columbia... again. I thought I was done with them. Spoke with Sara in billing, who told me that she would call me back in a couple of days to let me know what the credit owed to me was. I never got a call back, and when I called after a week Sara no longer worked there! They then transferred to me Sofia Papaderos, the financial services manager, who actually was pretty good about emailing me back at first. However, I found it strange that the manager could not give me a timeline of when or how the credit would be processed (apparently the credit needs several approval signatures prior to issuance of a refund check, again, something you would expect the manager to know about). She then proceeded to tell me that an amended claim needed to be filed with the insurance prior to me getting the refund, but Columbia never sent this amended claim, and again, her exact words were "Not sure on the time frame unfortunately". Then I stopped hearing back from her all together! After over a month of back and forth, I finally somehow just received a refund check in the mail, without needing this so-called amended claim.
What specific things went wrong at Columbia University?
- Lost paperwork
- Failed to send your chart to another clinic
Describe the specific things that went wrong at Columbia University.
When I decided to leave Columbia and get treated elsewhere. It took almost a month to get my chart transferred. It is very hard to speak with someone besides a receptionist. When you ask to speak with Billing or Records dept for example, you're transferred basically to a voicemail 99% of the time. For the records requests, the request is done via email and you do not receive any confirmation that the request was received. After numerous phone calls my records were finally sent.... but incomplete. Took another 2 phone calls to rectify. You have to insist to speak with someone, otherwise you just keep getting pushed to voicemail.
Next issue is billing. Please see details below. For a clinic where I did not even stay to do treatment, I couldn't believe the issues that I had.