NMC Commentary

Do Phone Scams Continue to be a Concern?

Yes, it is more important than ever for each of us to be attentive and vigilant when we answer the telephone to reduce the chance of being caught up in some sort of scam. The Vermont Attorney General’s web page reports popular scams as “medical alert calls; sweepstakes, lotteries, prizes, contests; debt collection scams; and computer tech support scams.” Some scammers stoop so low as to impersonate grandchildren in some sort of imaginary trouble to extort money from unsuspecting concerned grandparents – and the Attorney General’s page points out that “seniors are often readily available by phone and so receive many high pressure calls from scam artists.” Identifying a scam can be a challenge, as we have heard reports of scammers ‘spoofing’ the Caller ID listings of local businesses. Given such concerning behavior out there, I wanted to share some information about NMC’s calling practices specifically regarding payments to the hospital or our provider practices.

For many patients, the bills for their medical care are taken care of without any phone calls from the hospital or our extended business office. However, our team does use the telephone to contact patients when accounts have balances due and there is no insurance information on file for the patient or if insurance has paid its portion and a balance still remains on the account. We find that many patients appreciate this contact as it allows payments to be made efficiently over the phone, questions about the bill to be answered, missing insurance information to be gathered, payment plans to be arranged, and opportunities for financial assistance to be discussed. Our team member will be able to confirm your account number, dates of care, and other details so you can be confident that you are speaking to a member of our team. In addition, if you are concerned that a call just does not seem right, you can call our team instead.  Hang up on the questionable call and call the 800 number on your NMC billing statement to reach our extended business office team.  They will be able to look up your account and help you through the process – and you know you are talking to the right people because you called them based on the contact information provided in your NMC statement.  If that in itself makes you nervous or raises any concerns, you can call NMC’s main number at (802) 524-5911 and ask to speak to our Patient Financial Services department.  The operator will connect you with the right person on our customer service team (depending on the first letter of your last name).  That person will be able to help you with questions and can help ensure everything is correct.

Our Patient Financial Services Team is here to help you. They encourage all patients to make sure you bring your insurance card with you each time you come for care. That helps ensure that information is up to date and that your account can be processed quickly and accurately.  They also encourage each of us to understand our coverage so we are not surprised by co-pays or what aspects of care are covered at what percent. If you have questions, your insurance provider has staff standing by to help you with that information and our team can help you access that support from your carrier.  They also join me in encouraging anyone who feels they would benefit from financial assistance to ask our team about it.  NMC has good financial assistance systems in place to help with the cost of care and you may be surprised to find you qualify. Don’t hesitate to ask about assistance – let us check to see if you qualify, as it can make a real difference.  We are very happy to help.

Please use caution on the phone these days to avoid getting swept up in a phone scam. To learn more, visit www.usa.gov/stop-scams-fraud. This official site lists common types of fraud and ways to report scams. Meanwhile, here in our community, take the proper steps to ensure you are talking to who you think you are – and if you have questions as to whether a caller is calling from NMC, just call us directly and our team will take care of you.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer