Five Steps to Take Before Paying Your Medical Bill
Nearly 80 percent of medical bills may contain errors, experts say. Real Simple.
Take these steps to check your costs, keep them down, and avoid nasty surprises.
1. Check information
First, make sure your insurance bill is actually paid and that the insurance information provided is correct, advises Andria Gross, medical billing attorney and founder of MedWise Insurance Advocacy. Sometimes the billing company mails the bill without going through the insurance.
2. Request a detailed list
Service providers must provide you with a breakdown of the items, which will indicate how they came to the final amount. If your account does not have this, please ask for clarification. Then make sure all items on the bill match what you received during your visit or stay at the hospital, recommends Teresa Brown, senior director of the hospital department at Medliminal, a company that specializes in reducing medical bills. “Check the units and quantities,” she clarifies. “I spoke to a woman whose husband had a CT scan and they billed her twice. We saw a toothbrush that was billed for $1000. So look for extra zeros and other numbers."
3. Research Account Codes
Each medical procedure has a corresponding payment code. This code is entered by your doctor to tell insurers what procedures have been done and to help them process the claim, explains Caitlin Donovan, director of communications and public relations for the National Patient Advocacy Foundation.
If you are denied payment for a particular procedure, find out if the correct code was used: enter the code from your invoice or insurance indemnity in the code search tool, such as findacode.com. If you notice a potential error, check with your doctor - you can reapply with a corrected code. “Among other things, I recommend asking your insurer how the procedure for payment should be coded,” Donovan clarifies.
4. Don't be afraid to negotiate
Even if you've reviewed your bill for accuracy and filed an appeal, you can still save more than you think. To do this, go to Web site healthcarebluebook.com or fairhealthconsumer.org, to understand what is a reasonable fee for the service. This will give you the opportunity to start negotiations, Donovan clarifies. People want to be paid, so they will see that you are trying to pay the bill and service providers will start working within your financial limits. They may even offer a lower lump sum.
5. Don't procrastinate
Do not put off solving this problem until later. Call the billing office (or your insurance company, if it handles the payment for you) as soon as possible if you think you've found a mistake. If you do not contact the billing service or pay the bill, the service provider may send data about you to the collection agency. The agency will then notify the credit bureaus of your debt. Medical loan debt less than six months past due does not show up on your credit report, so it's a good idea to resolve issues before it shows up.
How to warn yourself against problems:
1. Know your insurance and the providers it covers
One of the most common ways to increase your medical expenses is to use a provider that is not covered by your insurance. Before any doctor visit or procedure, check to see if the provider or laboratory is in your insurer's network. In case of emergency, find out which hospital in your area is in the network (but note that some doctors working there may still not be covered by your insurance plan). Call your service provider for clarity.
2. Talk about pricing
Ask your doctor about cost-effective alternatives, Donovan advises. If doctors know that budget is a priority for you, they may choose a more affordable treatment or a generic drug.
3. Become your own protector
Keep a record of the conversation during your meetings (and during the meetings of those you care about). Ask if you can record your visit.
By the way, in 60% of cases, Americans are the reason for bankruptcy today. indicate unbearable bills from medical facilities. This is more common than bankruptcy due to housing or student loans. It always makes sense to fight before you shell out the surprise bill and go bust because of it.
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