Filing A Complaint Over Trouble Paying Medical Bills

Background Information

I am a patient of the Legacy Health system. A couple of months ago, I was emailed about a bill I needed to pay. I opened the MyChart iOS app and signed in to the service. As soon as I went to pay my bill, there was an accessibility issue.

The screen where I had to select a method of payment was not accessible. I could not select the method of payment I wanted to use. Activating the Submit button resulted in me getting an error message about some nickname being in correct.

I picked up my Windows computer, and tried paying the bill online. Again, I was unable to select my method of payment.

Frustrated, I got assistance writing a check and paid my bill. I hated paying that way; doing so is not independence. And, of course, there is no reason for the payment portal to be inaccessible.

I called Legacy and let them know I was having a problem paying my bill. I told them there was an accessibility issue with MyChart. I described exactly what was happening. I let them know I wanted to pay my bill and that I wanted to hear what they were going to do to make the portal accessible.

I got a phone call the next day from a customer service representative with Legacy who said he was going to help me pay my bill.. He didn’t say anything about what they were going to do to make the portal accessible.

I left him a voicemail and said he could call back, and I would pay my bill. I also told him I wasn’t going to accept that as enough. I wanted to know how the portal would be made accessible.

Neither he nor anyone else from Legacy called, but the bills kept coming.

About a month later, I got another bill. Once again, I couldn’t pay the bill on my phone or computer. Sadly, I needed help to write another check.

By last Sunday night, I couldn’t stand it anymore. It was time to act!

Getting Results

Believing the problem was with MyChart and knowing they are a huge multinational business, I wasn’t going to go easy on them. I found an email address we are to use when people have issues using MyChart and composed the following email.

Text of my Email

My name is Jonathan Simeone. I am a blind lawyer. I have a MyChart account through the Legacy Health system (Legacy) in Oregon.

Do to the inaccessibility of MyChart resulting in its noncompliance with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am unable to pay my bill through the MyChart app or the website version of MyChart that Legacy has.

If I do not hear from you by 5:00 PM EST on 02/01/2023 with steps you are going to take to ensure MyChart complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, I will file a complaint with the Department of Justice.

I expect your compliance plan to be based on consistent, regular testing of MyChart by native users of assistive technologies to ensure usability. Using automated tools looking for compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is not sufficient.

While I know developing an accessibility plan takes time, I better hear an honest attempt to become compliant by the end of the week or I am filing with the Department of Justice. I will also notify Legacy that I am filing against them because they have chosen a portal that violates my civil rights as a person with a disability.

The Aftermath

The next day, I got an email response from MyChart telling me the payment Portal Legacy uses is not a MyChart product. I didn’t know it at the time, but the people at MyChart forwarded my email to Legacy.

Less than 48 hours after I wrote about the inaccessibility, someone from Legacy called me. He asked me to describe the problem and let me know he was going to contact their payment portal company. He gave me his number and said he would be in touch in a few days.

Now there is a good chance InstaMed (Legacy’s payment portal) will be accessible. Since other medical providers use the same payment portal, my advocacy may wind up helping lots of people with disabilities across America.

Lessons Learned

As I have said many times before, I started the Demand Our access project to show people with disabilities how to complain to make the world more accessible. As I hope you have seen here, there is a chance to make a difference.

Sure, most of you cannot say you’re a lawyer. But all of you can say you have a disability. All of you can mention they are violating the ADA. All of you can point out they are violating the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. And, of course, all of you can threaten to file a complaint with the Department of Justice if they do not provide you an adequate response in a few days.

Sadly, making a phone call, describing the problem, and threatening wasn’t enough in this case. Here, I had to put the threat in writing. Usually, it does take a written threat. But if you are willing to make your threat in writing, you too can make the world more accessible to us.

I look forward to updating all of you on this soon.

I would appreciate hearing from you. This is our website!