Approximately one-third of Americans have medical debt, and more than half of those individuals have defaulted on their bills. Hospital costs can accumulate quickly and feel overwhelming, especially when most bills contain errors. Fortunately, there are ways to catch medical bill errors and reduce costs. Employees should:
- not pay the bill as soon as it’s received. The National Consumer Law Center suggests that individuals take the time to review their bills and open negotiations before paying any money. Credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion do not report nonpayment on medical bills for a year. However, the sooner negotiations begin, the better.
- scan medical bills for errors. The Medical Billing Advocates of America, a healthcare advocacy group, found that around 80% of medical bills contain erroneous charges. Ask your healthcare provider for an itemized bill as it provides in-depth descriptions of the services and medical bill coding. Between your explanation of benefits (EOB) and itemized bill, individuals should look for:
- duplicate charges—charged twice for one procedure.
- incorrect charges—charged for a service that was never received.
- upcoding—an inflated diagnosis resulting in a more expensive treatment than necessary.
- unbundled charges—separate charges for a group of procedures that occurred together and should’ve been under a single billing code.
- ask for help. The Creative Benefits Employee Service Representative (ESR) Team is equipped to help our clients and their employees review their medical bills and reach out to the providers, if necessary. Navigating incorrect charges is time-consuming and frustrating, so let the ESR Team lighten the burden.
- determine whether charges are HRA, HSA, or FSA-eligible. If you are enrolled in a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you may be able to pay for your service by using either account. If you’re enrolled in a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), you might be entitled to reimbursement.
Owing any amount of money can cause stress and anxiety. Fortunately, there are ways to catch medical bill errors and reduce costs. Additionally, if you have any benefits-related questions, the ESR team is available Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM EST to assist.