Intermountain Health Care, Irresponsible with Physician Compensation

Fist_Full_Of_Money_clip_art_hightA few years ago, I wrote about how my wife was over payed by her employer Intermountain Healthcare over a period of two years to the sum of a six figure amount. TLDR, we agreed to pay the money back, and we have been doing it it over the last four years. The monthly amount was equivalent to what some people pay for a mortgage payment each month. Thankfully, they were willing to waive about 1/3 of the amount for reasons we never understood, but we were grateful for.

During this time, we learned of several other physicians who had also been overpayed by IHC and were now repaying it. IHC also decided to hire an outside company to audit their payroll as apparently they have no ability to make sure they are doing it correctly in house. Earlier this month, we finally made the last payment on our debt. We expected to have a smooth closing to the deal, but more incompetence than I could have imagined followed.

Twice a year, Wendy gets a bonus based on the patients that she has seen. Each year, we agreeded to let IHC take money out of her bonus for the repayment. Earlier this month, she had her second bonus of the year which would pay the balance of what we owed to IHC. To our surprise, we got a notification from (where we keep track of our finances) that we had gotten a ~$65,000 deposit into our checking account. This was no where near what was supposed to happen. I doubt anyone at IHC gets a $65,000 paycheck for one pay period. Instead of taking more money out of her paycheck for the final payment (it usually shows up as a positive accounts receivable deduction on the pay stub ) they put in a large negative deduction to the accounts receivable ( negative deduction adds to your paycheck for those of you keeping score at home). There was no explanation as to where the amount came from other than someone randomly pressing numbers on a keyboard. Wendy immediately texted her supervisor about the error because we didn’t want to have to go through another dispute about pay.

Wendy corresponded with a payroll person at IHC. It was decided that we would write them a check for the ~$65,000 that got deposited in our account, and they would issue us another check for the correct amount that she was supposed to receive for that pay period. This new amount was calculated to include the deduction for the amount we owed for the last payment. The number that they gave us, unsurprisingly, did not match what the records I had been keeping showed. Wendy emailed her contact what we felt the right number was who then went back to recalculate our payment. He then gave her another number which still did not match my records, but it was in our favor so we decided not to protest it.

The agreed upon amount was taken out of the check they sent us as a replacement for the ~$65,000 payment from earlier, and a new deposit was issued to our checking account. According to this agreed upon amount, our debt was now payed in full. They agreed to send us a letter stating that we had paid our debt to them in full. When the next pay period rolled around, another deduction was taken out of that paycheck which was the same deduction from the previous paycheck. At this point, they were taking money out of her paycheck, that they weren’t supposed to be taking out anymore. Another paycheck was issued to correct this.

You would think, that once a mistake was pointed out earlier this month in her paycheck in closing out our debt to them, someone would have been making sure that all the numbers were going to be correct and that everything was going to be done right. Nope, nothing resembling that happened. It is as if they didn’t even care about what was going on. They did not care. As my father-in-law so correctly described it, someone was asleep at the switch. Even people in management who were CC’d in the emails my wife was corresponding with for all these corrections never once stepped in to make sure things got taken care of correctly. For an organization whose purpose is caring for others, I believe the non patient care employees let their true colors shine throughout this whole ordeal about what kind of people they are.

This is a multi-million dollar nonprofit cooperation. Intermountain Healthcare is the largest healthcare provider in the state of Utah. There are lots of employees and logistics and money to keep track of. Keeping track of money for an organization this size is nothing new. There is zero excuse for not being able to have an accounting department that makes sure employees are paid correctly, especially when it has been pointed out to them multiple times that they are not doing it correctly. Even something as simple as a flagging system for when someone gets a really high paycheck, such as $65,000.

There are only two explanations for what has happened. Someone important must have a brother in law running the payroll department. He’s untouchable, therefor no effort is put into doing the job correctly. The only other explanation I can come up with is that the payroll department is actually a cage full of monkeys throwing poo on the walls. I took some accounting when I was working on my MBA, which I never finished. Even I can see that things are being running poorly. I can’t imagine what it is the people running this organization are thinking when they are making decisions for this organization.

As a nonprofit, Intermountain Healthcare does do fundraising for their Primary Children’s Hospital. Don’t get me wrong, kids need to be able to get good medical care. I have two of my own I want to be taken care of. A philanthropist should have second thoughts about giving money to this organization if they had any idea at how poorly they keep track of the money that they do have.

This paycheck problem is disturbing to us. I wrote about in the earlier post about how her paycheck is calculated. Its pretty complex and we do not have a way to check if what they are calculating is correct. Since mistakes were made with simple calculations for repaying her debt, I shudder to think at what is being done incorrectly when calculating her paycheck.

This whole fiasco has not been all bad. We’ve learned to live with less money, which is good. I think many people get too tied up in their money. We believe God used this to teach us to not rely on our money. After all, He got us through this.

My lesson to anyone reading this, don’t trust that your employer is going to pay you correctly. Keep your own records and be prepared to defend what you think is right.

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