Lowering Out-O-Pocket Healthcare Costs

Medical Bills: Catching Errors

A public opinion survey found that approximately 72% of patients are confused by their medical bills, and 94% have received bills they believed were “too expensive.” Medical bills are notoriously hard to read and understand, which often leads to overpayment.

Hospitals and clinics typically lump charges together and do not provide an itemized list, making it difficult for you to interpret the bill. With paperless initiatives, you might not receive statements regarding the amount the insurer paid. However, knowing what your insurance covered prevents you from being double charged. Despite the obstacles, there are ways patients can catch an error on their medical bill.

Reading your Medical Bill

To find discrepancies in your bill, you need to compare three documents: the list of services, the medical bill, and the Explanation of Benefits (EOB). Upon leaving the health facility or doctor’s office, you should receive a list of services that were provided.

Once you receive your medical bill, determine if the bill is itemized. If it is not, you have the right to request an itemized bill. Once itemized, cross-referencing the itemized bill and the list of services to make sure they match will be easier.

The final document you should review is your EOB. Your EOB is distributed by Medicare, your insurance provider, or another payer. This document explains what treatment and services you are responsible for paying and what costs were covered by insurance. The list of services and treatments within the EOB should match the previous two documents.

Services on the bills are typically coded. Use a medical dictionary or encyclopedia to understand what code corresponds to the service you received. Duplicate listings can occur, so it is important to confirm you were not doubly charged for a procedure or medication. Take note of any charge you think is incorrect or requires further explanation.

Preventing Erroneous Bills

Before an appointment or procedure, work with the receptionist to verify how your visit will be coded. During your treatment, take notes as to what services are being performed. If necessary, bring a friend or loved one to assist you.

Most hospital stays provide preventable charges. Prior to your hospital procedure, contact the billing department to determine what supplies you can bring with you to circumvent additional charges. Some hospitals will allow you to bring your own pajamas, blankets, or tissues.

By taking preventive measures and cross-referencing your bills, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. If you have a question about a medical bill you receive, please reach out to our employee service representative (ESR) team.