UConn Health has self-discovered a computer programming error in its UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s former automated payment posting system. This has led to small overpayments by some hospital serviced patients. As a result of this issue, UConn Health on Dec. 20 began as soon as possible mailing the first round of refund checks to those patients who overpaid in 2016.
This issue was uncovered during the planning, implementation, and billing mapping process for UConn Health’s new upcoming state-of-the-art electronic medical record system, EPIC. Once discovered, UConn Health tried to correct the automated billing program’s computer logic but was unsuccessful. The system was turned off immediately and the hospital is now manually reviewing each bill for accuracy prior to mailing and before payment postings.
A recent in depth review by UConn Health of the hospital’s billing records during the last year has confirmed that when some payments for hospital services were received from health insurers the automated payment posting system’s computer logic incorrectly assigned small remaining due balance statements to some patients as their responsibility to self-pay as an out-of-pocket expense. However, the small balance due statements should have been instead assigned to their insurance carrier for payment.
During review of the last year, the internal audit has identified a 35 percent error rate in the computer’s assignment of incorrect balance due statements for self-payment by some hospital patients. The audit confirmed the overpayment by 1,000 hospital patients so far. The estimated average overpayment was $100 dollars. The approximate total cost of refunding those overbilled patients will total approximately $250,000 including the additional interest payment of $5.
To make amends for this computer error, UConn Health began mailing the first round of refund checks including interest to impacted patients who overpaid in 2016.
UConn Health is performing an ongoing review of its billing statements year by year for the last 6 years until 2011. The look back is expected to be complete by summer 2017. To assist them UConn Health has acquired an independent accounting company to examine the extent of the billing issue and oversee a rapid refund process.
To safeguard our patients from receiving future incorrect billing statements, UConn Health is now manually reviewing each hospital bill for accuracy before it is mailed and again when a service payment is received and logged. Additionally, random spot checks of a sampling of bills are being conducted monthly by UConn Health Finance supervisors. Also, the upcoming implementation of our new nationally recognized EPIC electronic medical record system will help prevent our patients from receiving balance due errors in the future.
Please continue to refer to this website: health.uconn.edu/informed for ongoing updates on the status of billing refunds for each of the past 6 years.
Billing Review Status
2016: Review completed. Letters with refund checks mailed Dec. 20, 2016.
2015: Under review.
2014: Under review.
2013: Under review.
2012: Under review.
2011: Under review.
Hospital patients with further questions can reach UConn Health’s Patient Financial Services Hotline at: 860-679-4460.
Media inquiries can be shared with: Lauren Woods, Health Information Officer for UConn Health at: 860-679-2139 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
UConn Health has self-discovered and immediately halted an incorrect billing issue affecting some of our hospital patients. We are in the process of refunding any patient who overpaid small amounts in 2016 as a result of a programming error in the hospital’s automated payment posting system. We apologize for this billing mistake and thank our patients for their patience and continued trust in us as their healthcare provider. We have already put in place several safeguards to help prevent billing issues in the future. Also, we will be working rapidly to examine the full scope of this billing issue year by year going back to 2011 to ensure if any patient was indeed overbilled, they are refunded.
- Why were some patients overbilled?
A computer programming error in an automated payment posting system has led to some UConn John Dempsey Hospital patients being overbilled small amounts. This computer error caused some hospital patient’s to receive incorrect self-pay balance due statements that should have been charged to their health insurance company.
- What patients were overbilled and during what time period?
As a result of the computer program’s error, UConn Health’s internal audit so far has found a 35 percent billing error rate among those patients receiving hospital services during 2016. We have confirmed that during that year 1,000 patients overpaid and they have begun receiving refunds in the mail as of Dec. 20. UConn Health is currently working to complete its planned 6 year look back to 2011 to confirm if any other patients are affected.
- How much were patients overbilled and how much will they be refunded?
The average overpayment was $100. Overbilling ranged between $4 and $2,500. Each patient will be refunded the total amount they overpaid plus a flat courtesy fee of $5 to cover interest and inconvenience.
- How was this automated billing program’s error discovered?
The computer programming error in the hospital’s automated payment posting system was identified during the ongoing implementation process of UConn Health’s new electronic medical record system called EPIC. UConn Health self-discovered the billing issue during the new EMR system’s implementation and billing mapping process.
- How are billing errors being prevented now and in the future?
Once UConn Health discovered the automated payment posting system’s flawed computer logic it tried to correct it, but it was not technically possible so the program was turned off. The hospital is now manually reviewing each patient bill for balance accuracy before it is issued and also upon payment. The manual review of each bill, along with random monthly billing spot checks by Finance supervisors, will continue until the implementation of our new nationally recognized EPIC EMR system takes full effect in early 2018. This new EMR system will help safeguard our patients from receiving future balance errors.
- How will patients be refunded?
With the holiday season upon us, we wanted to issue refunds to our patients as soon as possible. Patients who overpaid in 2016 began being notified the week of Dec. 20 with a letter in the mail from UConn John Dempsey Hospital with an enclosed refund check which included an interest payment.
- What if I am a patient who may have been overbilled, but didn’t receive a letter?
UConn Health’s internal audit and that of an external accounting firm have done a thorough review of each of the billing records so far in 2016. We believe we have identified each affected patient within that year. Further review will continue for other recent years dating back to 2011 to ensure no patients have incorrectly been overbilled or have overpaid. For updates or questions, patients can call the Patient Financial Services Hotline at 860-679-4460 and continue to check our information website for the latest updates including review completion status of each year.
- How do I trust future bills I receive from UConn Health are correct?
The health and well-being of our patients come first. And as a state institution and public academic medical center, UConn Health has a duty to be transparent to the citizens of Connecticut whom we serve. That’s why we stopped the overbilling as soon as it was discovered and are committed to providing refunds to our patients as quickly as possible.
- What is the total amount of money UConn Health is refunding and where are these funds coming from?
Right now the approximate cost of refunding the confirmed 1,000 patients who overpaid during 2016 will total approximately $250,000. These refunds will come directly from our revenue reserves here at UConn Health. It’s our patients’ money and we are returning it where it rightfully belongs.
- How much will the in-depth billing review and refund process cost UConn Health?
The review of Baker Newman Noyes, an accounting and advisory firm, is expected to cost up to $500,000. However, it was a necessary investment to ensure we refund any overpayments back to our patients.
- What if a patient is contacted by a collection agency for non-payment of a possible erroneous bill?
If a patient was overbilled a small amount in 2016 it has been removed from their due account balance. However, if a patient believes they have been contacted by a collection agency for non-payment in regards to a small non-payment balance related to this billing issue, they are urged to call UConn Health’s Patient Financial Services Hotline at 860-679-4460 to alert us and share their information. Our staff is here to help review their situation and advise them accordingly.|
- Who is responsible for this computer programming error?
UConn Health is currently assessing how this computer programming logic error could have happened and when.