A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake. Confucius
When you get admitted in a hospital, you are not just a patient, you are also a consumer.
There could be times when the technical quality of your medical care may be great, but the
administrative hassles you encounter may be a major pain point. A big issue is the complexity
of the medical bills patients are presented with when they are discharged. These often run
into pages and pages of fine print, full of undecipherable jargon, and sadly many hospitals
slyly misuse the fact that patients cannot make sense of their bills as a ploy to pad the bills
and overcharge them. You need to be vigilant to prevent becoming a victim of this scam,
otherwise you can end up spending a pretty penny.
Why errors occurThe complex world of medical billing is ripe for errors. As many as 50 people- ranging from the nurse to the medical coder, could be involved in generating just one bill. With all of those hands touching your bill, it’s no wonder that as many as 80% of bills contain mistakes which will end-up wasting your hard earned money.
It’s true that medical bills are difficult to decipher. They are loaded with numerical codes, confusing abbreviations, charges and payments. The primary step in identifying errors lies in understanding exactly what you’re looking at, and not being afraid to admit when something is confusing.
The following three steps will help you make sure you pay the right amount, and are not fleeced.
Step 1: Request itemized copies of all billsEvery line item needs to be spelled out, so you know exactly what you are being charged for. Deciphering the bill can be a challenge, but it’s worth taking the effort to do so. As you go through your bills, mark everything you have a question about, so that you’re able to address these concerns later.
For example, carefully check for duplicate charges to make sure you were not billed twice for a single service or procedure. With an itemized bill, it should be much easier to spot. Similarly, you may be charged for a test even though it was never performed, because the doctor cancelled it after ordering it. Going through your bill line by line will make sure you are not taken for a ride.
Step 2: Verify dates of hospitalization and identifying information.Begin by checking the simple things. Ensure that all your personal information, contact details and insurance information are correct. Also double-check your dates of hospitalization. These seemingly small mistakes are quite common, but they can affect your insurance coverage or how much of the bill counts toward your deductible. Billing departments play games, and they can get creative with their billing. A common tactic is called “upcoding”, which involves billing someone for a more serious (and expensive) charge than warranted. If any charges are suspicious or simply seem far too high, mark them so you can ask about them later. Step 3. Ask for help, if needed
Start by meeting the billing office staff. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to ask all of your questions. You are the customer here, and the medical providers are being paid for a service. You’ll get the best results if you are cordial even when frustrated, but don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions and get clarification when the answers aren’t clear. Reviewing your medical bills will take some time and effort, but if the tedious process saves you some money, it will be well worth it. Don’t allow financial errors to compound your medical problems!