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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Patients at Yokota Air Base might experience long delays in receiving medical bills following a switch in the base’s collections contractor, according to the Air Force.

Bills are arriving five or more months after patients receive medical care on the air base, Yokota spokesman 1st Lt. Christopher Love wrote in an email response to Stars and Stripes.

Some base residents reported simultaneously receiving an old bill for medical care and an Air Force delinquency notice threatening to revoke driving and base shopping privileges without immediate payment.

Patients are seeing the billing delays because insurers have been slow to reimburse Yokota’s 374th Medical Group for covered treatment since the base transitioned to the billing contractor Benefit Recovery Services in June 2011, according to Love.

“The medical group has been receiving reimbursements a few months later than one would find in the civilian sector, where most hospitals get paid from insurance companies within 60-90 days,” Love wrote in an email. “The billing contractor is reviewing all our outstanding bills to see what’s causing the delay.”

Benefit Recovery Services did not reply to emails asking for information about the delays.

But health insurer Aetna, which covers many civilian workers, denied responsibility for billing delays.

Ninety-five percent of the 108 Yokota claims and payments since January were paid to the base medical services within 10 days, spokesperson Marnie Goodman said.

“Our claims reporting shows that there were three claims for small amounts … that were delayed due to what may have been incomplete medical information,” Goodman said. “Those three claims, however, were resolved and paid in March.”

Yokota has had medical billing problems in the past.

In 2008, the hospital discovered that it failed to bill about 1,000 patients for treatment worth about $900,000. The oversight dated back to the installation of new computers in 2006.

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