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Cleveland Clinic Experience: A Nightmare

Have you ever been to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF, or just plain Cleveland Clinic)? If so, chances are you have been harassed by them in one way or the other. Go to the Better(!) Business Bureau website and you will find numerous complaints against them. Remember that it is just a tiny fraction of the people harassed by Cleveland Clinic that would visit the BBB website and a tiny fraction of those would go to the length of actually making a formal complaint. It is another thing that you will be lead to believe that all those complaints on BBB website have been ‘closed’. Dig a little deeper, and you will find the truth about those ‘closure’s!

[There are a lot more complaints against them I found online. Visit the review on Yelp and you can see a tiny link for ‘Filtered’ reviews. May be Yelp did not want to show a low rating for CCF (don’t wonder why) and suppressed most of the bad ratings. Some more ‘filtered’ reviews are here]

I am taking the information from BBB here because I myself have sent a complaint to them, and I know from experience how they handle the complaint, and how CCF has maintained its A+ rating on BBB! The whole thing just disgusts me.

Wonder why such a huge percentage of the complaints against CCF are billing-related? Don’t wonder. Please read a few of them and you will understand. Cleveland Clinic would do the following to take money out of your pocket (and this is from my own experience and from the experience of a lot of other people I have talked with). Even my insurance agent told me that she had been harassed and over-charged in this fashion.

  • They send you a wrong bill, that will have a very high amount due. You may just pay it off without verifying.
  • If you decide to review the bill and talk to them (good luck waiting for the customer representative for at least one hour, who might or might not listen to you properly), they make a ‘promise’ to rectify the mistake.
  • They may send you another wrong bill, add a line that your account would be sent to collections if you do not pay.
  • If you get scared by the ‘collections’ actions and pay up, it is fine.
  • If you decide to talk with them again (good luck again!), you will again hear some ‘promise’, and pay up the entire amount due till that date.
  • The next bill comes with a line that your account has been sent to collections, and that you have not paid anything to them ever!
  • Meanwhile, you will start getting annoying calls every day from some recovery service.
  • Cleveland Clinic would sometimes say that they have received your payment, and sometimes would deny receiving any. The recovery service would continue pestering you saying that they have not received “stop harassment” signal from the CCF. You are in a royal soup!
  • Oh, this is just the beginning. The real circus starts when CCF would charge a lot more from your credit card than what you would approve (and receive a receipt for). In other words, they will steal your money. If you could find that out, good luck talking to their rude customer service people after waiting on line for more than an hour!
  • Is stealing from your credit card account bad? How about charging you for the SAME service multiple times? That’s a special act in the circus by CCF! Or, may be, it’s a course on reviewing bills offered by CCF. By the end of it all, if there is an end at all, you will learn how to review each item on a medical bill.
  • You will never know for sure how much you owe them! If you call the automated service, you will hear some amount. If you go to the QuickPay online system, you may see something different. And, the paper statements may have some altogether different figure!
  • You make a payment on phone, and after a few weeks you call them and tell them that you have already made a payment, they may flatly deny receiving any payments from you
  • The customer service people of CCF are THE WORST I have ever come across. Like any average person in the USA, I have to make numerous calls to customer service department of various companys. But I have never been so disgusted and frustrated as I was almost after each time I talked with the Cleveland Clinic customer service department.
  • The Ombudsman department is nothing but a joke. Don’t even bother disturbing them. Talk with your paper weight, and you will have a much better chance of getting your issues resolved. The most helpful thing I ever got from them was, “it was not our fault. It was a billing-system error.” Sure! the billing-system should be sent to jail, right?

The sunny side is, by the ‘end’ of it all, you may be suffering from high BP and other stress-related problems, and may get admitted to Cleveland Clinic again!

At some point of time, you would wish that you were dead, and Cleveland Clinic may just be the place to go to!

Avoid Cleveland Clinic at any cost. Avoid it like the plague!

Cleveland Clinic Customer Service and Cleveland Clinic Billing Help

  • Call them any time other than between 7 am to 9 am on weekdays and an automated voice will tell you that the best time to call is between 7 am to 9 am on weekdays. If you call during that ‘best’ time, the automated voice will tell you that the ‘best’ time is some other time. Everyone I talked with have been frustrated by this trick.
  • You might be told (more often than not you are not told) that the waiting time is, say, 8 minutes, and your call may not be attended to before a full hour has elapsed.
  • The average wait time I have experienced is about 55 minutes to an hour. That, too, considering the fact I called at around 7:30 am most of the time.
  • The customer service people of CCF are THE WORST I have ever come across. Like any average person in the USA, I have to make numerous calls to customer service department of various companys. But I have never been so disgusted and frustrated as I was almost after each time I talked with the Cleveland Clinic customer service department. They are outright rude, would cut you off in the middle and would not let you talk.
  • If you can somehow explain your issue, you may get some promise to fix the issue. In my experience, and in the experience of the others I have spoken with, those issues have NEVER been fixed.
  • They talk to you as if their billing system glitch is your fault, and it is your duty to reconcile all the statements and bills sent from them ever since you have had the first service at any CCF facility.
  • You think you have paid off the entire amount due, and got a confirmation from the customer service department? Wait for one year! Out of nowhere a balance may appear on your account. Worse, it will be sent to a collections service without your knowledge!

Cleveland Clinic Billing Department

Please go to the BBB complaints page. See how many of the complaints are because CCF have, in a way, stolen their money. I have had the same experience. I had approved, say $600, as a payment to be taken from my credit card amount. After some time, I received a confirmation from the CCF for the same amount with a confirmation number. However, when I checked my credit card statement, CCF had actually taken $799.01 from my account! This is nothing but stealing and credit card fraud. They had all the time to detect it and apologize for it. But they did not.

This happened not just to me. The BBB complaints page show that numerous people have had the same experience. So CCF is well aware of this issue and still has done nothing about it. This makes one suspicious that this is deliberate! It is a shame that Cleveland Clinic, apparently one of the premier healthcare facilities in the USA, would stoop so low for a few extra dollars!

That was just a small part of what the billing department does. Another very common way of taking extra money from the customer is to bill multiple times for the same service performed. I had paid off my May balance in may and June balance in June. later, I found that almost all the items in the May statement had reappeared in June statement. I paid twice for the same thing. When called, the response was, “You have not made any payments in May, ………. Well, I see that you did make a payment, ………. it may be a system error, ………… you see the same items on your July statement and you will have to make the payment, ……….. I will send your account for review.” And that’s that. No remediation. No reimbursement. No apologies. No intention to fix the system.

the whole experience with Cleveland Clinic billing would be a nightmare.

Cleveland Clinic Ombudsman

It might be an understatement to say that the Cleveland Clinic Ombudsman is a joke. Don’t even bother disturbing them. Talk with your paper weight, and you will have a much better chance of getting your issues resolved. The most helpful thing I ever got from them was, “it was not our fault. It was a billing-system error.” Sure! the billing-system should be sent to jail, right?

It’s frustrating to see that someone holding such an important position as an Ombudsman is so callous and void of logic. It was a nightmare to get any point across to that person (mind that, the CCF customer res would get the point much quicker. It’s another thing that they wouldn’t help at all), and even if that person understood the issue, would again forget (deliberately?) in  a few minutes. Sometimes that person would even try to explain the solution to an issue that is completely irrelevant.

Needles s to say that that person was rude and impatient, the type you might expect from Cleveland Clinic.

Avoid Cleveland Clinic At Any Cost

I have been harassed by their billing department for seven months now. I know of others who have also suffered like this. You may find more such people if you visit the BBB complaints page. Any person I have spoken with, that had to deal with Cleveland Clinic at some point in time, has been frustrated and disgusted with their billing department and the customer service. They feel cheated, they feel their money has been stolen by the clinic, and yet there has been no apology from CCF and neither has been any resolutions to the billing system issues.

Cleveland Clinic feels like a trap, a rip-off. Avoid at any cost.

The Role of Cleveland Better(?) Business Bureau

Where would someone go after getting harassed by a large company like the Cleveland Clinic? Better(?) Business Bureau, may be. And what do they do? See for yourself in the BBB complaints page for Cleveland Clinic. The same happened with me, too. After they tried to wear me out by asking for one document after another for a long time, when I took 10 days to make a comprehensive account of all the harassment, I found that they suddenly marked my case as ‘Closed’ with the reason that they determined that CCF has made “good faith effort” to solve the problem! Yeah, the proof of their good faith is all over the complaints page! And what about BBB? Wasn’t it my fault to believe in them, in the first place? The exact same thing has happened with so many other people who complained with BBB with hope for some justice. Better Business Bureau?! Spineless jokers.



  1. So glad I found this site. I have been in severe pain, seeing every doctor imaginable only to find out 3 years after giving birth I had a fractured and dislocated rib. The nurse failed to check my status while in labor, so the doctor (who was not scheduled to deliver my baby) had to get on the bed with me. They failed to prop the bed so my sister locked hands with another nurse and acted as my support. Hence, my fractured rib. Would love to find a lawyer to help me!!!

    Comment by Jessyca — November 24, 2015 @ 4:39 PM

    • I was in auto accident on April 8th and I have called their billing dept now on 9 different occasions and that is including two to the ombudsman office and my insurance still as of today’s date for the facility fees have not been submitted. I received a bill stating that they are pending with my insurance but I have called my insurance now on 7 occasions still no claim. I refuse to pay a 4000.00 dollar bill my insurance will pay for if they would just actually do their job AND SUBMIT THE DAMN CLAIM. SO FRUSTRATED!!! I HAVE TT THE BILLING DEPARTMENT NOW AND EVEN BRAD AND KATIE IN THE OMBUDSMAN OFFICE!!!

      Comment by tammy — May 22, 2016 @ 9:32 PM

      • Beware that billing dept might try to act like collections and send you a nasty letter. DON’T PAY THE $4,000. If it’s covered by your insurance, so be it. If the Clinic calls you like they are collectors, tell them that you’re not paying and they can’t collect. You might also say that (for whatever reason) you don’t care if they mess up your credit report. If the Clinic knows they can’t collect, they are more likely to back off IMO. I’ve been wondering if you start complaining around — like, Attorney General? Google where else you can start complaining. BBB has billing complaints about CC on file.

        Take a look at this link http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2012/10/cleveland_clinic_patients_othe.html and see if you can contact the writer with your story. A perfect opportunity to be proactive and open your mouth

        Hope it all works out for you somehow.

        Comment by annasdiabetes — May 24, 2016 @ 3:08 AM

  2. Here is a nice one;

    back in 2014, when I still had health insurance, I’d gone through a half completed colonoscopy ( it was aborted half way) and another one done properly. Well here is what happened, before I scheduled my 1st one I asked how much would be my copay, which I was told it would be $500 by a clinic employee.

    For my total surprise I’ve gotten an invoice for $11,000, hospital room, anesthesiologist, doctor etc… for 2 full done colonoscopies.
    Before I done anything, I call Cleveland Clinic and asked how much it would cost someone to get a colonoscopy done without insurance, paying out of pocket for doctor, hospitalization and all, the price was around $1,200 if paid in advance, since they were running a “special”.

    Well, i ask, how can they charge me and my insurance $11,000?

    They are still charging me $1984 for these two colonoscopies even after getting paid more than $6,000 from my insurance!


    They should behind bars!

    Comment by ana — March 7, 2016 @ 6:57 PM

    • Wait til the Clinic billing starts sending you collection letters… they are NOT collectors but pretend to be. This happened to me AFTER the billing has agreed to set up monthly payments. ‘World Class Care’ is nothing but a paid advertisement. SUCKS

      Comment by annasdiabetes — March 7, 2016 @ 7:14 PM

  3. Drs. Are dishonest and rude. Don’t care about patients. Ombudsman plays mind games and will never support a patient when there is a conflict with one of the doctors. They take care of peeoplevwith a lot of money and treat the rest of the world like dirt.

    Comment by Frances Frances — March 21, 2016 @ 12:11 AM

  4. This is worth the read – note the part specifically about medical bills being paid off. If you are sending them $10 a month, they can’t do a man thing about it, credit reporting-wise.

    March 10, 2015

    Trying to Fix a Credit Report?

    Landmark agreement makes credit fixes simpler

    By Charisse Jones

    New York State’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (Photo: Bebeto Matthews, AP)

    NEW YORK — Fixing an error on a credit report may become less of an ordeal for the nation’s roughly 200 million credit users in the wake of a landmark agreement with the largest credit-reporting agencies that aims to make the process fairer to consumers.

    New York State’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the deal, struck with Experian Information

    Solutions, Equifax Information Services and TransUnion at a news conference Monday. The reforms, he said, will help millions of consumers get the financial help they seek to pay for cars, homes and tuition by clearing up inaccuracies on their credit reports. Though negotiated by Schneiderman, the new rules will be applied nationwide.

    “The credit-reporting system in America … suffers from inaccuracy and often from outright injustice,” Schneiderman said. “The nation’s largest reporting agencies … have accepted to a degree they haven’t in the past the responsibility that comes with that role, to ensure the fairness of the dispute process and their data.”

    Lenders, such as banks and credit card companies, as well as collections agencies, report accounts and payment histories to the credit-reporting companies. Those firms then score an individual’s collective credit data, and that metric is used by creditors to determine

    whether a consumer can get a loan, and what interest they’ll pay if they do. A consumer’s payment history can mean the difference between having to put down a deposit with a utility company, paying higher premiums on an insurance policy and whether they can get a job with some employers.

    Often, when consumers have tried to challenge a negative posting, credit-reporting companies have maintained the negative information based on the lender’s say. Now, the credit-reporting agencies will have to rely on more than the lender’s word and do an independent inquiry into the consumer’s claim.

    “That is a rubber-stamp approach that will no longer take place after today’s agreement,” Schneiderman said. “They have to do their own independent investigation.”

    Other key changes will deal with the reporting of medical debt. At least a fifth of all consumers see their credit negatively affected because of medical debt, and often it is an insurance company’s delayed payment that causes the delinquency, Schneiderman says.

    Going forward, medical debts cannot be reported for 180 days, giving insurance companies time to make good on claims. And the credit-reporting companies will erase previously reported medical debts that have been, or are currently being paid off, instead of leaving them to scar a credit report for seven years.

    Debts, for tickets, fines and other obligations that a consumer did not enter an agreement to pay, can no longer be reported. And under the new plan, consumers whose disputes are not resolved to their satisfaction will get information on what they can do to follow up.

    The Consumer Data Industry Association, the trade group representing the three credit-reporting firms, said in a statement that the agreement came about after months of discussions between it, Schneiderman and other state attorneys.

    “The National Consumer Assistance Plan we are announcing today will enhance our ability to offer accurate reports and make the process of dealing with credit information easier and more transparent for consumers,” said Stuart Pratt, president and CEO of the CDIA. The group added that credit-reporting firms had already been trying to ease the dispute process, including a move in 2013 to allow credit users to upload documents that enabled them to challenge lenders.

    Calls for more transparency in the credit industry have been growing in recent years and have led to changes that include a growing list of financial institutions saying they will offer consumers their credit scores at no cost.

    But the deal announced Monday will bring about the most significant changes to the credit bureaus’ practices since the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, which mandated that the agencies provide a free credit report once a year, and the creation of a website where consumers could access them.

    “It’s monumental,” John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for CreditSesame.com, said of the agreement. “The medical collection changes, as well as

    the changes to the consumer dispute process, are kind of equally the crown jewels of the settlement agreement.”

    A person’s credit history “transcends so many parts of our lives,” he noted. “Not only can it cause you to be denied something that you really shouldn’t have been denied … but even if you are approved for something, like a loan, it can be priced in such a way that’s not reflective of your risk.”

    The changes will roll out over the next several months, and CDIA said that “dialogue continues with additional attorneys general, and further announcements could be made in coming months.”

    Comment by Ed Fred — March 21, 2016 @ 11:23 AM

  5. Wow. I wish I could reblog this

    Comment by annasdiabetes — March 21, 2016 @ 10:06 PM

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