30% Of All Medical Bills Contain Errors – What You Can Do
If you have been to a doctor or hospital lately, there is a good chances you have paid a little more for your visit than you originally thought it would cost. Medical expenses can be quite high for everyone, but did you know as many as 30% of all medical bills contain errors? How do you know if your bill contains errors? What can you do about it? Here are 5 helpful tips.
1. Make sure you understand every item on your bill.
Medical bills can be confusing and there are often items or phrases on them that are difficult for patients to decipher. It is absolutely imperative, however, that you understand every line item on your bill. If there are any items you do not understand, call your doctor’s office or hospital’s billing department and have someone explain it to you. You may also want to make notes during your phone call so that you do not forget anything.
2. Keep track of what happens while you are at the doctor or hospital.
This can be especially important if you are at the hospital for a longer period of time, such as over a few days. Try to keep a record of every medication you are given, as well as any interaction you have with a doctor or nurse. If you are too sick to do this, see if you can have a friend or family member take charge of making notes. Then, when you receive your bill, check it against your own records and make sure that both documents reflect the changes. Call your hospital to discuss any discrepancies.
3. Have a full understanding of what your insurance company should pay for.
Make sure that you know what amount of a service your insurance company will cover. If possible, discuss this prior to receiving care. If you have been hospitalized unexpectedly, however, try calling as soon as you can to confirm the amount of coverage you have for each procedure you’ve received. You should also have read through the explanation of benefits on your policy and made sure that you fully understand the terms of your policy. Knowing how much your insurance should cover will help you identify any situation wherein you have not had an appropriate portion of your bill covered.
4. Check for duplicate charges.
One common billing error occurs when the same charge occurs more than one time. Go through your bill and check to see if the same item or code is listed more than once. If you see any instances of duplicates and have not received a service more than once, call your doctor or hospital’s billing department.
5. Always communicate with your doctor or hospital’s billing department.
Do not skip payments because your bill contains errors. This may negatively affect your credit and lead to late fees or other unnecessary charges. If your bill contains errors, speak with the billing department and work out a plan with them. See if they will accept a partial payment while you resolve any errors, or see if they can extend the due date of your bill. If the billing department will not do this, pay your bill as it is, and continue to seek to resolve any errors so that you can seek reimbursement. Once a bill goes to collections, it can be very difficult to fix any mistakes, so avoid this at all costs.
The most important way to protect yourself from billing errors is to stay informed as a consumer and, stay organized with your own records, and stay proactive in resolving any issues.