People are taking action to be more conscious of their money lately. One of the things you might never have thought about is your medical bills. Do you know if your medical bill is right? Often they will overcharge and or include something extra on your bill. Who knew, right?
Today’s guest is Angel Cellucci. Angel is a sought-after speaker, trainer, and consultant who inspires audience members and clients to take charge of their health care expenditures. The knowledge and training she provides is the first line of defense against medical fraud, waste, and abuse, which currently robs all of us an estimated $80 billion dollars every year. Angel is the Owner and CEO of two medical fraud investigation companies; and she is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. Medical Fraud Fighters Overbrook Consultants
Some of the topics we discuss when it comes to reviewing the bills and fighting the erroneous charges are:
- Guilty Til Proven Innocent
- Dove System (Document • Organize • Verify • Engage)
- The Four Most Common Things To Look For on Your Bill
- How To Change Your Mindset Around Medical Bills
- How to Advocate for Yourself
- To Remember — You Have All The Power
If you have a current, outstanding, or upcoming medical bill (or know someone else who has), you don’t want to miss this episode with Angel Cellucci!
And, Angel has a FREE gift to help you along this path. You can go HERE to get your free ebook on how to protect yourself.
This transcription was made by using Otter.ai so it is not 100% accurate.
Krisstina Wise [0:00]
Hello again and welcome back. In this episode, I interview Angel Cellucci. Angel is the CEO of medical fraud fighters a medical Fraud Investigation company. She’s also a nurse practitioner as well as a sought after speaker trainer and consultant who inspires people to take charge of their health care and their health care expenditures. Her goal is to educate and empower individuals to become more aware and educated consumers of health care, especially if one’s health care invoice, who knew that medical fraud and abuse is a thing that 90% of the time they’re incorrect charges on a consumer medical bill, even the most routine medical visit can amount to thousands and overcharges. In our conversation. Angel explains what medical fraud and abuse is, as well as the devastating financial impact it has on individuals and their families. She shares the most common types of medical billing fraud and what you can do to protect yourself from this fraud. And she shares her dug method for what to do and how to do it if or when you notice suspicious charges on your bill. If you have a medical bill, future present or past, you’ll definitely wish to listen in this conversation will likely put many zeros back in your pocket. Please enjoy my conversation with Angel cellucci.
Angel, welcome to the Wealthy Wellthy podcast.
Angel Cellucci [1:20]
Thank you, Krisstina, thanks so much for having me.
Krisstina Wise [1:23]
I’m really looking forward to this conversation today. Because it I’ve never heard of what you do as a service before. And it’s something that I think we’re all oblivious to. And it totally fits with what I teach, which is the importance of looking at your money because you never know what charges might be on your credit card or that it gets swiped out of your account that or could be miniscule. But if you’re not paying attention, there’s all sorts of monies to get charged, that we’re not even aware of just kind of money and money out. So before we get started, and I’m going to ask you all these amazing questions is tell us a little bit about you tell life story. Who are you and what really got you to the place where you’re here with me right here right now.
Angel Cellucci [2:09]
Um, well, it’s funny, when you turn around and you look back at where you’ve come through, you realize that the universe, your God has had you on a path to bring you to this moment. So I don’t think there’s any accident that we’re meeting now. And especially during COVID when people are getting million dollar medical bills. So, but where I started, is I grew up in Philadelphia, and a very small Italian close knit neighborhood, where and I think that really plays into why I do what I do today. It was a very close knit neighborhood where everybody watched out for one another, we had each other’s backs. You know, it’s I remember the first prime watch of the neighborhood starting up then and people shared their resources with each other. And they just watched out for one to one another. And I know we don’t live, a lot of us don’t live in communities like that anymore. But that mindset, I think we should all still have, you know, watching out for one another and protecting one another. So side note, I relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, five years ago, because I reunited with my first love. We hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years, and we grew up three doors away from each other in this neighborhood in Philadelphia, excuse me, but throughout my entire adult life. I had raised two amazing kids, but I was also a registered nurse. And I love caring for people. And more importantly, I love empowering people and educating people. So if I had a diabetic patient man, I was giving them any and all information. So I would love educating my patients and letting them know that they have the power of everything in their lives, whether it’s a diagnosis, a disease or anything like that. So and I especially loved taking care of underserved populations, migrant workers, prisoners, that type of stuff. I love just protecting and watching over people. And I think that has to do with how I was raised in my neighborhood. So fast forward, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and I want to do more with my nursing. I became a nurse practitioner. In the meantime, I wanted to do something more with my nursing. So I started with I started a company called overbrook consultants where I investigate for medical fraud for insurance carriers. Somebody I had met, she had told me that that’s what she was doing. And she taught me the ropes. And I started doing that because prior to that, I trusted everything about the health care system. It’s the health care system, they’re not going to hurt us. You know, they’re all about caring and loving and all that stuff. And then I realized, Oh no, they’re a business. They’re a business who makes money by caring for people. And I was shocked by how much medical fraud my company was finding in these records for insurance carriers. We were saving a millions of dollars over the years. So that’s when I stopped. And I thought, people have no idea that this is going on, people have no idea that their providers could be incentivized to do more treatment or to prescribe more drugs, or to build incorrectly, you know, they could be incentivized by that. So that’s when I decided I need to bring up this message and this knowledge to people, and that’s my primary thing is to bring awareness. Now, there are people who are billing advocates out there who will do it for you, there are companies who will do it for you. But my thing is, they’re not with you in the doctor’s office, at that moment of care, they’re not with you, when you’re looking at that bill, right then and there. And you’re like, what the heck does all that mean? You need to know that. So my evil, excuse me mission is to help people become better consumers of health care, because it is a consumer transaction, you know, you are paying whether whether you are a cash patient, or whether you are a self insured, or whether you are fully insured, you’re still monies being exchanged. And I just want people to be more aware of it. And I want them to know how much power they really have in using their voice to deal with things like that. So that’s what brought me the full circle. But I also want to say, as we get on with our conversation is that I don’t want anybody to come away from this, doubting their providers, or doubting, or not trusting the healthcare system, because what I want them to know is, there’s good and bad teachers, there’s good and bad medical providers, there’s good and bad, you know, police, you know, we’re talking about that in our society. Now, there’s good and bad in every single industry. And that’s why the power has to fall on you to be more discerning. And, and that’s what I want to do. I want to bring awareness, education and empowerment to people so that, you know, they can protect themselves and stand up for themselves and know what to look for, I wouldn’t give them the tools so that they know what to do. So that’s how I got to here today.
Krisstina Wise [6:59]
I love it. Thank you for sharing that story. It’s beautiful. And now you’re giving in a different way. So, you know, it’s a different type of nursing.
Angel Cellucci [7:09]
Yes, exactly. It’s a different type of nursing.
Krisstina Wise [7:12]
Alright, so what is, so obviously everybody listening, you help people really investigate medical fraud that may show up on their statements and their books. So what is medical fraud? Like? How would you define it?
Angel Cellucci [7:27]
So there’s actually two things, there’s medical fraud, and there’s medical abuse, and abuse is the more benign that’s the stuff that always comes under the radar. And that is when you charge the payer, whether again, it’s an insured individual, or a self paid uninsured person, cash paid person, that’s when you’re being charged for something more than you should actually be charged for, like marking up the prices kind of thing. And hospitals are notorious for marking up their prices by 400, to 500%. So an example of that would be let’s say, you went to the hospital and you were an inpatient, you would see on your medical bill that you received a charge
Unknown Speaker [8:09]
Angel Cellucci [8:11]
a mucus recovery system for roughly $20. Now, people may glance over that and think, Wow, that’s pretty fancy, you don’t know what that was, that’s a box of tissues, you were just build 20 bucks for a box of tissues. Now, it’s not fraud, because you did get the tissues but what they charged you that’s considered abuse. Now, fraud, on the other hand, is when you knowingly and intentionally are trying to get paid for a service or a procedure that you did not deserve to get paid for. So for example, and this is what I want people to start thinking, and why we have to start looking at our bills is that if you went to see your provider for just a sore throat, but then when your bill came in, you saw that you were actually billed for a pneumonia visit? Well, that’s a higher acuity level, meaning they should have spent more time with you they should have treated more or evaluated more systems on you than what they actually did. And they’re not. So they’re knowingly trying to get paid for something that they have no right to. And why is that a big deal? Because some people are like, Well, I have Medicare, why should I have to care? I have full insurance. Why should I care with your billing? Well, because now you have a pneumonia diagnosis on your medical record? Also, you know, that is not true. It’s not right. So that’s considered actual fraud. And that’s the difference between the two.
Krisstina Wise [9:30]
Thank you for that. And how prevalent is this? Is this, like, one in 10,000? might notice something on their bill like this, or? I mean, is it is it more common than we’d like to think?
Angel Cellucci [9:42]
Yes. And I think that was what got me because I so my other company overbrook. We have been doing this. I’ve had the company now for six years. And it was just recently where I decided let me run the numbers like how many charts did we review we reviewed over 1000 charts and then how many With fraud, how many without Christina 93% of the records we reviewed contain some form of billing error and or from. So therefore, nine out of 10 of the medical bills that we get in the mail could have errors. And people don’t know that. And then when so when people get the bill in the mail, they probably open it up, they probably think, Oh, my gosh, how could that be that expensive? Not thinking, and that’s where I want people to change their viewpoint, I don’t want you to think, Oh, my gosh, how am I going to pay that? I look at and I tell my friends, this, I look at every bill as if it’s guilty, until I prove it as innocent. It’s not innocent till proven guilty. It’s guilty until I prove it is innocent. Because it may not be fraud, it may not be abuse, it could be human error. I think they say that the Medicare system alone gets like 40 million claims a day. So you know, it’s kind of like mistakes happen. And I don’t want that mistake to take money out of your listeners pockets. I want their money to stay where it belongs. So yeah, long answer, but nine out of 10 medical bills you get in the mail could contain errors. Wow.
Krisstina Wise [11:08]
All right. Well, I love that too. Like just just go ahead and make it your mantra that every medical bill that comes in, it’s let’s prove it guilty until we prove it innocent. So I’m looking at that. So if one was going to look through their bill, and there’s all these different charges on it, how would you advise them to look at that? Like, how do you know that that’s is a box of tissues and should maybe be two bucks, and it’s 20 bucks? Like how do you know how to go through this thing?
Angel Cellucci [11:35]
Well, and that’s what I like to teach people. So there are certain databases and websites that I can advise people to go to the biggest one I tell people is go to Google, like they’ve made it a verb. And I know you should never send anybody, you know, someplace other than where you want them to go. But I believe in just sharing this information. So if you see a code on your bill, it’s either a CPT code, which if it’s a procedure, it’s a CPT code, which stands for current procedural terminology. So just Google that, put it in there. And if you don’t know what that price, why am I getting billed 1200 dollars for something that just has a number next to it? So then you would just Google what is CPT code 99215, or whatever? And then it’ll come up, and it’ll tell you and then if you see it, you can be like, Oh, yeah, I did have that done, or Oh, no, I didn’t have that done. And then let’s say you did have it done. And let’s say it was 1200. dollars. And it was for something. I can’t think of anything offhand. But something very, very, let’s say it was a shoulder X ray. Okay, so you get a shoulder X ray, and you see that, oh, that’s, um, they charged me $3,000 for shoulder X ray, well, then you can go to healthcare bluebook.com. And you can put in your zip code, and it will tell you what the going rate is in your area. So that’s helpful before you have a procedure. If you want to know who has the cheapest rate, you could do that. But let’s say on the flip end, if you receive a bill and is $3,000, for shoulder X ray, you can look at that. And if they tell you that the going great, because here’s the other thing, Christina, the healthcare system is not regulated with regards to what they charge. So kind of like if you have a Starbucks on each corner, you know, you’re going to pay the same for coffee and eat. That’s not that’s not the same way with hospitals, hospital, a could charge you 3000, hospital B could charge you 5000, this hospital could charging 500. So on the flip, and like I said, if you see your bill, you were charged for that, well, then that’s your bargaining chip, and or bartering chip. So then I would go to the billing department and say, Hey, I was billed $3,000, for this shoulder X ray. But this hospital, the going rate in this area is only you know, let’s say 600. I’m not going to pay the full amount I will pay what are you willing to negotiate, and I teach people how to do that. And then there are I have tools that I provide people that have templates already written out if you need to challenge a medical bill, if you need to challenge a billing error, if you owe and that’s the other thing. Christina, one advice my boyfriend give me before we started this, he’s like, Don’t vomit knowledge on her. Because I tend to overshare. But I just want to capture every moment I have with your audience so that they know what to do. Don’t spend hours on the phone. If you have a billing error or a billing question. You know how people say, Oh, I was on the phone with the insurance company or the medical provider for three hours. Don’t do that. send a letter certified because by law, they have to respond within 30 days. And while they’re doing that your case is on hold. It’s not like corrective creditor start coming to you say here’s my documentation, because it’s not written down. It’s not done. Here’s my documentation. I’ve been in communication with them. I’ve sent them these letters and I’m waiting for their reply. So you’re not going to then be bothered in the meantime. But that one little thing. Income make all the difference for somebody send it in writing.
Krisstina Wise [15:04]
Wow. So what I’m hearing is that if you go to the hospital or to a doctor, you get some procedures done, you get a bill in the mail, the first the first line item is guilty until proven innocent. The second piece, then is to look at all the charges and just verify what they are to make sure they’re accurate. And that they were actually done. The third piece is to is to compare and just make sure that that price was the going rate was a fair price. And if not, then the fourth step really is to challenge that and to know that you can challenge it, I think would be important takeaway there is that I think so many we just get used to Oh, that’s just what it is. And like you said, it’s like, holy cow, how am I gonna pay for that? What is this and without any awareness or understanding that it couldn’t be negotiable, that it couldn’t be abuse, it couldn’t be fraudulent, that that even if it were any of those things, you could even do anything about it. So I really love this. It’s like this step by step way of going about all medical bills to make sure that you know, it’s all you know, the the amount circuit that what’s on there is correct, the amounts are correct. If not, you negotiate them at the end of the day, you pay a fair amount for what you actually truly had done, is that correct?
Angel Cellucci [16:26]
It is correct. And I am sitting here like the angels opened up, Oh, she gets it. Yes. And you just basically laid out my system. So my system, I call it the dove system, because by implementing the dove system, and this is something people your audience can start doing today. You don’t need any special equipment to do it. And it stands for document organized, verify and engage. And by implementing the dove system, you will have financial peace of mind knowing that you are keeping your hard earned money where it belongs in your pocket. So what I tell people is number one document, and you need to begin documenting everything that has occurred from the moment you make the appointment, or step foot into a hospital all the way through until that bill has been done and paid. And an example of that, well, I can also tell you four most common types of billing fraud, we can get into that that they should look for. But the first step has to be document. The second step is to organize, you need to have an organizational system, I don’t care if it’s a shoe box, I don’t care. I have a binder that I could provide people that keeps everything organized. But you need to have one system so that when you are dealing with medical bills, you know that everything is right there. And you’re just kind of focused on that at the moment. The third step is to verify because when your EOB is come in, if you have insurance, or when the bills come in, if you’re uninsured in your cash payment, which millions of people are now uninsured in our country, you know who have lost their jobs through COVID and stuff. So whether you get the bill in the mail, you want to verify what you have on that bill or that EOB. And you want to compare it to what you documented back in step one, you know, because you may see in a bill, a charge for an office visit on a day that you did not go because in your calendar, it says no. And Christina, they lose bargaining power, when you could say I don’t think I was there that day. Versus I was not there that day, I am looking at my documentation I was and it just makes you stronger and more confident when you have the evidence in front of you. And then the fourth step of the Duff system is to engage and who you engage with is based upon whatever it was that you found. So if you found no errors, and you’re able to pay the bill, you would engage with your provider and pay the bill. If you found errors, but you can’t afford to pay it, then you would probably engage with the billing department. Because then you’ll want to get on a payment plan with them. Note to self don’t ever put it on a personal credit card, though, which I’m sure you could tell them more about that. But then they’re going to be incurring finance charges and interest and all that no, you work out a payment plan with the provider directly. And if you found latent fraud or abuse or blatant fraud or abuse, then who you engage with is based upon whatever it was that you found, whether it’s your state authority, whether it’s the hospital administration, doesn’t matter who it is. And like I said, I have lots of templates and letters already drafted up that you can just plug in your information for that. And then if any of your listeners truly have financial hardships, like hospitals and providers, they’re open to negotiate based on financial hardship but you also especially in time of COVID you’d have to be able to document that and you’d have to be a little bit transparent and let them know look, this is my mortgage payment. This is what I have in my checking account. These are the expenses I have I cannot pay this bill and still afford to live You know, and, and they do work with special cases like that if any of your listeners are in that arena also, so the dubs document organized, verify engaged, you will have more control of your medical expenses.
Krisstina Wise [20:11]
That’s so good, thank you. Well, I I mean, I, by nature of what I do is really a financial coach and consultant and, and therapist for that matter money therapist, but I see a lot of books I work with a lot of people on their books, it’s a really working to get their money in order and, and you know, financially in a really good place and in control of where all their money comes in and goes out. So as a part of that is we’re rearranging things and working to, to improve their overall financial situation, I see a lot of medical bills, not maybe not bankruptcies, but just medical bills or claims or those that have gone to collections. So do you have anything to say about that? Like, is there any type of, of negotiation or anything that maybe is a little bit after the fact that because we didn’t do that, because what I’m what I believe is happening too many is they don’t understand that there’s probably so much of that ridiculously high bill that they can’t pay, there’s probably a good margin there that you don’t owe. So had they known that maybe they could have afforded it, or they could have done that, but instead, they just didn’t pay and then it’s turned into a much worse situation. It’s like, you know, pre diabetes, turning into diabetes if you don’t do anything. So do you have any type of advice there, once it’s gone to collections, or once it’s gone past this, you know, that initial place where the bills just come in the mail?
Angel Cellucci [21:40]
Well, for people who are in that situation, right now, I would say to just get a good financial therapist, like you just said yourself, somebody that can really help you work through that. Because at that point in time, and especially please don’t become delinquent on your account, be proactive. If you can’t afford to pay the bill, you have to be proactive in dealing with it. Because once you go delinquent, that’s another bartering chip that you just lost. But if you’re on top of it, and you’re in control, they see that and they’re more willing to work with you. And I like the fact that you brought up the pre diabetes, I want to help people, I feel like this is what I want to bring awareness and education now. But let’s go to the first part, like before it even starts maintain a healthy lifestyle so that you never even need the health care system. Because every encounter that you have with the healthcare system, is putting you at risk for medical fraud, waste, and abuse or human error. And the other thing is, we and I say this, that 62% Well, this is a fact part 62% of all personal bankruptcies are related to medical expenses. We are all one major illness away from medical expenses. So even if I have insurance, man, I know that if I get really, really sick, there’s gonna be things that my insurance carrier may not pay for, because again, they’re in the business to make money and to keep money. So it really the onus does fall on the consumer of health care, you know, and if we don’t need that, then then we’re, that’s that’s your safest bet is to not need it. But once you are in it, please be aware that yes, this is going on. And and if you didn’t know this, before this podcast, you’re not alone. Most people don’t know this, they have no idea. And that’s the awareness part I want to bring to people. And the other side note, yes, in addition to the medical fraud and abuse, in addition to the health care system, and providers who could be I call them the ethically challenged of our society, anybody that wants to take advantage of somebody else. They’re the ethically challenged of our site, but we have organized crime rings, who are also trying to steal money from you your medical identity, your insurance cards, especially if you have Medicare or Medicaid. And with regards to that, think about the telemarketers that you get think about the the phone calls, think about the calls that you get for a free back brace. I don’t know if any of your listeners have been a victim I’ll say a victim I hate that word. But you’re a victim for five minutes because and then what what did you do about it to grow, but there was operation brace yourself. And there was an organized crime ring that was targeting our Medicare Medicaid recipients because if they get that number, if they get your Medicare number, it’s like a blank check for them. So what they were doing is they were calling elderly people saying Do you have any pain? Do you have any back pain or knee pain? Well, when you’re over 65 if you don’t have any pain, you’re pretty darn lucky survey. I was like yes, Well, you’re in luck because your insurance carrier has approved for you to receive a free back brace. So just give us your insurance information, you know your address and we’ll send it to you so they would send these people a back brace that you could get at any big box store for 10 bucks, but they build the Medicare system 1000 dollars $999. Because 1000 is the red flag, they built the Medicare system $1,000. This cost us the taxpayers because we are the ones through our FICA tax. Would you talk more about that? We are the ones who are funding Medicare to I believe that scam was $6 billion. It costs the taxpayers $6 billion. Right now people could say, oh, that would never happen to me. I can pick up a telemarketer call, you know, you know, they can’t fool me. Well, they fooled a lot of people, people I know intelligent people here. I know in town, they got them too. So it’s, um, you just have to protect your medical identity, your credit cards, all of that, because there are people trying to take advantage of you. And sometimes they’re wolves in sheep’s clothing. So
Krisstina Wise [25:45]
yeah, well, thank you. And again, it’s awareness that I’ve never thought about anything like this before, before I was introduced to you. And I was like, Oh, my God, we have to get her on the podcast, everybody needs to know this. So share with me what are some of the most common types of medical fraud.
Angel Cellucci [26:01]
So when you’re looking at your bill, now, we do have over treatment or unnecessary treatment, there’s tons of that going on. But just to help your listeners the next time you’re looking at a bill, the four most common types of billing fraud, our first one is billing for services not delivered. And an example because I like to think in pictures. An example of that would be my mother who has Medicare, she was billed $500 for an office visit. And at first, she didn’t think much of it, because the insurance carrier paid for everything. But then that just kept sticking in her head. I told her that was my voice that was in her head. But she went back and she looked at the bill. And she realized that on that date of service, she wasn’t even in the state on that date. My parents live in Pennsylvania, they were at their house in Florida. So she reached out to her insurance carrier and they were blown away. They were like, Oh my gosh, that’s fraud, you found fraud. How did you find fraud, and I’m like, you better have dropped my name. So billing for services not delivered, the other one would be double billing. When you’re looking at your bill. Again, if you don’t know what the code is, Google it, they’ve made it a verb now, Google the code. And this would be charging you not just double but multiple amounts. So a friend of mine, also who was on Medicare, he was billed, he had a same day procedure. I knew what he had done. So I called him and I said, How many IVs did you have? And he said, One Why? I think because you were built for six, that’s double billing. And essentially, the other one, most common one would be unbundling and on bundling occurs when they parse out and charge you for every single item. So the example I give with this one is that, let’s say you went to a fast food restaurant and you ordered a value meal, and you set off a number seven value meal. And they said, okay, that’ll be $72. And you’re like $72, what does why and they said, and what they’re doing is they’re parsing it out. So they’re charging you for the cup, the straw, the ice, the lid, the burger, the bun, the one pickle, that and there’s lots of procedures and supplies that hospitals tend to parse out. A good example of that I just held on to me would be like, if you had, let’s say, a Chem seven, or a metabolic panel, which is blood work that you usually have done every year, and there’s like, you know, five or six different tests in that, no, there’s seven, a Chem seven, that would be as if they billed you for each and every single one of them. So if you knew you just have routine bloodwork, and it was incredibly high, look at the codes and say, Oh my gosh, they billed me for my sodium for my glucose for my you know, they billed me for each one of these instead of one unit. And then the other one I kind of touched on before, it would be billing you for something more intense or a higher acuity level than what you actually received. So if you just keep your eye on those four, every time you open up a bill, then that’s going to help protect you, you know, at least out of the gate and you always want to verify your your demographic information. Do they have the right address the right birthdate, you know, because the smallest mistake could make the difference between a claim being paid and not paid. You know, and so I know there are watch people out there, like I said, billing advocates and you know, your insurance carrier should have billing advocates out there. But you really have to be your first watch keeper. And the same way that you know, when you go grocery shopping for Thanksgiving and the receipts like as long as your leg well, and we review every line to make sure that they didn’t overcharge you or double charge you.
Would we ever tolerate a receipt from a grocery store that just said meet $200 vegetables? $150 dairy, we would never tolerate that. So why are we tolerating that from the healthcare system? If you get a bill that is really, really high and it just says you know 30 $500 for this date of service, oh, no, no, no, no. You send them a letter and you say I want an itemized bill because the same way we evaluate that grocery list now You want to evaluate line by line because an itemized bill is going to give you line by line charges. And you know this to Christina. Another thing if they’re admitted, you want the line by line. I mean, listen, it may be overwhelming. It may be this many, you know, like six inches high a bills of the printout, but you want to look at that, because what if that saves you $6,000 or $10,000. And like I said earlier, people who are being treated for Coronavirus and hospitalized for like a month they’re getting bills over a million dollars like to be hospitalized for Coronavirus right now, so you want to look at that and you want to look at every single line. And here’s a quick thing to look at if you do have a loved one who’s in the hospital, is, if you your provider said that, you know in your track that you could have Tylenol or any type of pain reliever to four times a day every four hours. But the nurse comes in and says, you know, do you have any pain? If you say no, I don’t have any pain? Okay, then you don’t get the Tylenol. But guess what, a lot of times they’re still charging you. The computer doesn’t know that you didn’t take it. So now at 25 bucks a pop, you’re being charged? What? The $200 for medication You didn’t even take now Could it be a human error? Sure. Could it be further abuse? Sure, who’s going to determine that you are you have the power to determine and say no, not on my watch. That’s my thing. I say the people not on my watch this thing happened to no more Not on my watch. People need to know all of this stuff.
Krisstina Wise [31:29]
Yeah, and again, I’ve been teaching a lot of just that awareness. It’s just being more conscious and aware. And when you’re aware that this is a normal thing, you’re not conditioned to look for it. Anything, you know, we don’t have to attach GOOD BAD to it. It’s just it’s very likely the case, this is the case, because it’s just pretty normal. And I want to make sure that everything’s accurate. I’m going to take responsibility for that. Exactly. Wow. So thank you so much, you know, something that is been in my head while you’ve been talking is, I guess when it comes to hospitals that knock on wood, and I’ve never been in a hospital. So you know, and those types of things. I think there’s just all these types of charges you’re talking about. But what comes to mind is that is is a knowledge that will be like when my dad was in the hospital, for example, same thing, there would be these exorbitant charges for something like you said, A Tylenol or Kleenex, but it’s just the the thinking that went with us. That’s just what they charge. That’s just the way it is. And knowing that that’s just what hospitals do they mark things up by 500% to make money or something. There’s no follow up thought to think, oh, that’s negotiable. Or Oh, there might be something wrong with that, that I can actually not pay 500%, I can actually just pay the cost of of that item outright. So what would you say? Is that true? Is that the I mean, I just think that that’s a normal mindset. And what you’re saying, or let me ask you this way, is it true? what you’re saying? Is that Oh, no, no, those types of if they’re marked up so high, you actually do have the ability to go in and to negotiate those?
Angel Cellucci [33:13]
Yes, 100%. And I think that that’s the key takeaway is that we’ve all had this frame of mind that, oh, that’s just what they charge. And now we need to change that. And this is, you know, nobody else is teaching people this, nobody else is bringing it. It’s almost like I’m opening up the kimono, because I’m showing you what I was doing on their side. People need to know this. So you’re right, right now, we didn’t think we had any power. We thought we just had to accept it. And how do things change? Things change? When people say enough? I’m not accepting it anymore? And that’s the awareness part. That’s the piece I want to bring to people. And is it going to be scary? Sure. Because anytime you’re going to confront because we’re all David compared to Goliath, you know, anytime you confront that, but then what I think about, and this, I think, was just the, this is how I always thought in nursing too, like, when I know that my patients are paying three, four or $500 for insulin, that costs like a quarter to make, but yet the owner of the pharmaceutical company is making $60 million a year, that dichotomy that that just doesn’t fly. That’s that’s wrong. Same thing with healthcare, you know, when we have CEOs and shareholders and I don’t begrudge anybody making money, that’s not the point. But when you’re CEOs are making, you know, 30 $40 million, and the nurses at your bedside are making, you know, 20 bucks an hour, and the patients are now going into bankruptcy and patients can’t afford homes and their credit is wrecked, because you charge them $20 for a box of tissues. That is wrong. And I think the only way that’s going to change is if people like yourself and people like me, come out there Say No, you have more power than you realize. People don’t want you to know you have power to negotiate. They don’t. And guess what we also have, you know, new stations, my goodness, if my sweet little neighbor if she was overcharged for something and our new station found out, that would be all over and we’re now we would fight for her. And that’s what you and I are trying to do. We’re trying to fight for you. But we also want to give you the power. I don’t want to do it for you. Could I sure. But I want you to have the power to do this yourself and stand up for yourself. You got us behind you saying we got your we got your back, like back in the neighborhood city. Yes.
Krisstina Wise [35:34]
There it all came together. There we go. We just pulled it all together. So that’s a perfect segue to start wrapping this up. Thank you. This is so eye opening and revealing. And I make I mean, my goodness, I think you know, you’re going to help just by virtue of the listenership here we thousands and thousands of dollars saved. So that’s super cool. All right. So thank you for that. And thank you for your energy. I mean, my gosh, I can just tell you’re so passionate about getting the word out and helping people have the knowledge and tools to be able to stand up for themselves and and to put money back in their pocket. Gosh, darn it.
Angel Cellucci [36:10]
Exactly. Right. And you know, on a side note for the fraudsters, I just want to add this to if anybody would like more information about the it doesn’t talk about the medical fraud aspect, but it does talk about the protecting your medical identity and the fraud schemes that are out there, the telemarketer stuff, I have created a it’s an ebook. It’s free. It’s only I think it’s maybe 10 page read, but it’s really chock full of information about why you should be asking your providers questions and the types of questions you should be asking. And I want you to have the framework that in the back of your head is this treatment medically necessary, because we see a lot of that medically unnecessary treatment, and how to have that doctor patient relationship because they want collaborative relationships with educated and empowered patients. I don’t mean education, level of schooling you’ve had but just conscientious patients, they want that. So this little ebook is five things that you can do to protect yourself from medical fraud and abuse. And all they have to do is, is it’s okay that I share this with them, I hope to just visit the website, which is medical fraud fighters.com. And it’ll be the first thing they see. And my goal is to get that in everybody’s hands to it because that’ll protect you from the telemarketers from the overtreatment. And I just in the back, I love to tell people how much power you have. And you know, that’s all in that cute little nugget a book.
Krisstina Wise [37:33]
So you know, what I love about this too, is that when it comes to feeling empowered, and having confidence and being in control in charge of our own lives, I teach something called sovereignty, meaning financial sovereignty but but but personal sovereignty meaning we’re in charge of our lives, we’re in control of our lives, we’re accountable responsible, we can make decisions, we do have more power than we think we can make choices and decisions, we can be our own advocate and stand up for ourselves. We can be David going against Goliath, you know, we do have so much more power when we can really own that and hold that. What I found to be true with those that work with me, and and you know, doing things like this is every little thing that you do to take some of that power back, grows us into feeling more of that holistically. So something is, you know, it’s not that it’s little, but something is small, really, in the grand scheme of things if like, No, I’m going to go up against the hospital, I’m going to get these charges down to where they are. And I’m going to work out a payment plan and I’m going to do this for what’s right for me and the family based on you know, fair and I want to pay my fair part, but they need to do their fair part. And then making those decisions and getting it done and completed. Like who that was cool. Look what I just did. I just saved the family. $25,000
Yeah, so that even it little things like this, and any different capacity continues to grow that where we feel we know we begin to resonate and understand and, and our power and that we start just continue to grow in that.
Angel Cellucci [39:13]
I agree. 100%. And let me also just say that in the beginning, your voice is going to crack. In the beginning, you’re going to be scared because it’s a muscle. But you’re right, the more we step into that, like I don’t want to sound sometimes the phillium it comes out or maybe it’s the Italian I don’t know, but I dare anybody to take advantage of somebody I know when it comes to their medical bills because I’ve stepped into this. Now I want to empower you to step into it. You’re going to shake you’re gonna you’re gonna be scared or nervous. Oh my gosh, I’m sending the hospital a letter. It’s okay, I’m right behind you. We got you got your back, you know, but you can do it and you’re right, the more you do it, I mean, what’s the opposite what’s at risk here, your financial security, your you know, your future, your ability to create the lifestyle that you want. Don’t give that power to somebody else, you know? And I just feel like yes. I love that sovereignty idea. I love that. And then the other thing I do want to share real quick, is that realize it can happen to anybody. These are really, really, really smart people, educated people, even the criminal rate of crime rates, they’re educated people and full transparency. Christina, do we have this scheduled for a while, but just last week, I’m an educated woman. I was a victim of fraud, to the tune of 30 $500. Yeah, because I have my blinders on. looking only at medical fraud, medical fraud, and I got caught up in a scheme. This company was wining and dining me for like a whole month sending me these emails corresponding back and forth. And it was the gift card scam, which I don’t know if you know about that that’s going on right now. They sent me a check for 20 $400 to go purchase Nike gift cards, and evaluate my local stores and do a survey and I was getting paid $400. Well, hello, during COVID time, Google put in us an extra $400. You know, that brings the wine up from the bottom shelf to the next shelf up, you know, that’s the difference. But anyway, um, so I went to go purchase these gift cards. And then I had to fill out a survey. I love my local stores here. So I couldn’t wait to do that. And then my bank called me and said, Did you purchase these gift cards? And I went, Yes, I did. and blah, blah, blah. And I said, so anyway, she said to me, did you buy them for family or friends? I said, No, it’s this great company I’m working for and she’s like, oh, sweetheart. She’s like, that is the largest fraud scam going on right now with regards to merchants, gift card scams. So I first I can’t believe that happened to me the fraud fighter? No. And she says just go return them. Guess what? They’re not returnable, either. And every one of the merchants said, Well, we can’t return them because there’s a fraud scheme going on right now. Well, I have my mascot. And I’m like, I know. And it’s me, I visit victim of this. I spent over 20 hours, I had to file police reports, I had to talk to detectives, I had to file a report with the Frederick Federal Trade Commission. Long story short, I also know that in addition to people like Christina and myself, there are people working really hard in the background to protect us also from fraud. The legal department, the fraud department at CVS, Publix, Walgreens, Bank of America, I spoke to the legal department and the front departments. And every one of them has been sending me emails on how to protect yourself, like all their they want to protect us, but they’re on the back end. Which is why we need to be more empowered as individuals. So we don’t get to that point, you know. And so yes, I don’t like the word victim. So how I reframed it, like, could I say, Oh, I really screwed up, you know, well, I did, but for five minutes, and this is how I got out of it, you know, how do you pivot? And how do you get out of it? So if you find that you are dealing with really large medical bills, and you didn’t review them, okay. Now, what who do I talk to? Who are the resources that I have to go to now to help me? Is it an attorney? Is it a financial advisor? Is it Christina like what is that look like now, but you don’t stay stuck, because that’s also how we give them our power. And that’s my whole message that you have more of a voice and you have more power than you realize.
Krisstina Wise [43:17]
So right on girlfriend, all right, let’s, uh, let’s come into home base. You’re awesome. And I mean, I just want to put you on a microphone and talk to you. Dad did you did just get everybody so excited? Alright, so now let’s you’re here, you’ve helped everybody else listening. Let’s shine a little bit of light on you. Tell me something if you said, Hey, Christina, if you really, really knew me, you would know that?
Angel Cellucci [43:44]
Well, that’s a really good segue into what I just talked about, um, if you really, really knew me, you would know that every day. First of all, if you really knew me, you know, I’m emotional, I cry very easily. I cry when I’m happy, I’m cry. And I’m sad when I’m mad when I because I just feel everything so intensely. And when people get treated poorly, I feel it. So if you really, really knew me, you would know that on any given day, at any given moment, I am equally terrified and empowered, at the same time. Terrified, because I know that this message needs to be heard by everybody, because I know there are people who can’t afford to pay for food this month. And it could be related to medical bills. I know that there are people dealing with diabetes, and they are rationing their insulin and putting their lives at risk. So that magnitude of that terrifies me, but it also fires me up. So I can’t even like explain to you what I look like in my head. But I’m going like a mile a minute figuring out how to help people but in my head, I’m like, Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. I’m like, so at the same time, I have that dichotomy inside being like, terrified that I’m not doing enough that I’m not reaching as many people as I should be. But yet also empowered and confident knowing That I can do this. So See what I mean? What I just said, My voice shakes Your voice is gonna shake, but keep doing it. Oh yeah, you’re
Krisstina Wise [45:08]
awesome. All right, so tell me something little brag moment Tell me something I’m really proud of.
Angel Cellucci [45:15]
Well, that just happened actually, have you heard of the 75 hard program? Oh goodness, I just finished the 75 hard program last week, and it is 75 days, it’s kind of like training for a an Iron Man for your brain and your body. So every day for 75 days, you are doing little things that are helping you to build and develop this muscle of grit, of determination of sticking to it of just becoming a better all around human being. So every day, you had to read a minimum of 10 pages. And it had to be self help or educational. It can’t be fiction or you know, Cosmo or anything like that. It had to be 10 pages of self improvement, it had to minimum you have to exercise twice a day, 45 minutes each time separate cannot be consecutive one of them has to be outside vitamin D nature connecting us to nature, you also had to drink a gallon of water. And then you pick an eating plan of your choice. So it’s not a hard strict diet or anything like that. Because life’s not about extremes. Unless it’s something you love. But you my choice was I eliminated processed foods and sugar. And then the other thing is no alcohol for 75 days during COVID. That was the hardest. So but at the end, and let me tell you, I write and complained like in the beginning and then at the middle, and then even towards the end, I’m like I can’t do this. I’m tired. I don’t want to do this. But then when I got to say 75 it’s almost like somebody turned my shoulders and said, look at that girlfriend, you just did that. And that fills up our empowerment muscle also, because you know, I can stay on the diet for a week or I’m a really good Monday starter for a diet, you know, that kind of thing. Or I don’t need to drink every night, you know, have a glass of wine with dinner. But when you turn around or Oh, I want to read but then you let things slack. But when you turn around and you look at that, and I think sometimes we need to do that with every area of our lives, like even if you’re feeling down or said turn around, pretend your best friends just screwing around, turning around saying look at what you just did, like. So that really, really changed who I am as a woman, it really did change who I am as a woman like, I don’t know, I just feel proud, more proud and confident. And I still can’t believe I did it. Like I cannot believe I did that.
Krisstina Wise [47:36]
Yeah, it’s super awesome. Again, it’s another example of when we it’s like I can do hard things. And when we know we can do hard things, it’s it’s it’s a confidence builder. It just means I know I can do it. I’ve proven to myself I can it’s like, you know, running my first marathon in a way. Like I never thought I could run a marathon. But when you do when you have an accomplishment like that, it’s I can do hard things I did the work. I may or may not ever do one again. But I know that I can.
Angel Cellucci [48:03]
so big that you said that. Before you did the marathon, did you? Sometimes you have to do those things before you can say I can do hard things, you know, we can think we can until we actually do it and then now you know it.
Krisstina Wise [48:17]
I guess the knowing afterwards. Yeah, it’s the proven to oneself like I actually can do hard things. Exactly. If I set my mind to it’s a done deal. Right evidence. Yeah, empowerment. All right. So on the flip side of that, tell me what’s like an abysmal failure, which were something you just like, Oh, my God, if I could do that all over again. Oh, geez.
Angel Cellucci [48:36]
Well, again, the woman that I am now today, I don’t like to think I’ve ever failed at anything. I like to think I figured out a way not to do it. So like I left a 28 year marriage, could I say that my marriage was not that I failed at my marriage? No, I now know how to communicate better with my partner. I now know what I will not will and will not allow in my life. I now know. So it’s kind of like that. Could I say I failed at I was in a Ph. D program for nursing. Could I say I failed at the nursing program because I quit? Well, sure. But I prefer to say I realized I don’t want to work in academia. So to me, that’s how I look at things. You know, could I say I failed. It’s I’m sure but instead where’s the lesson with that? So yeah, I I left a 20 year marriage just because I wasn’t happy, you know? And so there’s my lesson Your happiness is really important. And for anybody who’s out there married 20 years I’m not saying you need to get a divorce. But I had 13 marriage counselors like I gave him my all so good. I say I fail I don’t look at that as a failure. I look at it as a massive learning lesson.
Krisstina Wise [49:44]
And I love it. I love your mindset. And your your beautiful like you’re positive and optimistic energy just like bleeds out of you. It’s so it’s, it’s just lovely to be in this in your energy. Alright, so one final question to wrap us up. That I asked all of my guests just to bust a myth. So especially with all this awareness that you have, and what you’re trying to help others become aware of what is like the biggest myth and all of this
Unknown Speaker [50:11]
Angel Cellucci [50:13]
I think the biggest myth is that you don’t have I don’t know how to word it as what the myth would say. But I want people to know that you have more power than you realize. So I guess the myth would be that you have no control over the health care system where you have no control, when your doctor tells you, you have to have this test this test or this test, or you have no control, because ultimately, you have all the control. You don’t want to be in a diabetic medication, eat healthy, move your body, you don’t want to have that test done, ask the right questions. Why are you telling me I need this, like, make educated decisions and all the power ultimately falls on you? And so I just want people even if you get a bill for $100,000, I saw people who had bills for $350,000, you own that, you determine what’s going to look like are you just going to pay it? Are you going to go into debt? Are you going to look at that sucker as being guilty till proven innocent, you know, so I want people to know that that nobody has control. You own all the power in every area of your life. And there’s a respectful way to demand it.
Unknown Speaker [51:18]
All right, girl, that’s a
Krisstina Wise [51:20]
perfect place to complete. Thank you so much for your time for your energy, your enthusiasm, your passion, your mission. And all of the work that you’re doing. That’s really that advocate. Like you said, I’ve got your back. So thank you so much.
Angel Cellucci [51:35]
Yes, thank you. I enjoyed this. I don’t want it to end where we go for coffee now.
Krisstina Wise [51:53]
If you enjoyed today’s show, there are a few things you could do as a way to say thanks. First, simply hit the subscribe button to the wealthy, wealthy podcast. By doing so it helps both of us. You’ll never miss an episode and it helps me and my radians. Second, if you’re so ambitious, please leave a review while you’re at it. Third, just keep doing what you’re doing and continue to share the wealthy wealthy podcast with your tribe of friends and colleagues. On another note, although you likely listen to the podcast one remote keep in mind that there are links to the guests and their work in the show notes that you can find it ww podcast calm. You can also find a WWE podcast calm the latest information on my upcoming events and other things I’m creating to serve you in our mutual quest to live a wealthy wellthy life. Thank you so much for listening. See you next time.
What We Covered
[2:00] Tell us who is Angel Cellucci?
[7:02] So now you are providing a different type of nursing.
[7:13] So what is medical fraud?
[9:32] How Common Place is it to get charged for a service you didn’t receive?
[11:20] So how do you know what you are looking at on a medical bill?
[16:27] The Dove System explained.
[21:00] Do you have advice for people when it has gone to collections or past when you first get the bill?
[25:55] So what are the most common types of medical fraud?
[33:00] With how high everything is marked up do you have the ability to always negotiate a lower price?
[43:45] Krisstina if you really really knew me you would know that?
[45:10] Tell me a brag moment!
[48:27] Tell me what you perceive as one of your biggest failures.
[49:56] Bust a Myth for us.
“9 out of 10 bills sent out could have errors. “
“We reviewed over 1000 charts and then how many with fraud, how many without Christina 93% of the records we reviewed contain some form of billing error and or fraud”
“62% of all personal bankruptcies are related to medical expenses.”
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