How to Read Your Medical Bills
(FinancialHealth.net) – No matter how often someone visits the doctor one thing’s for certain: medical bills will appear. Instead of tossing them on the counter or in the recycling bin, take time to really review them. If there’s a charge that doesn’t add up or balances weren’t picked up by the insurance company, don’t panic. It’s likely a simple mistake that can be resolved.
Taking a Detailed Look
It’s not unusual to receive multiple bills in the mail. Some actually aren’t bills at all, but just a statement of charges or services. It’s important to know the difference between the two. Another thing to be aware of is that the insurance company may send a bill and the hospital may send one as well, compare the two.
Look for terms like “summary of charges” or “this is not a bill.” One thing to consider is that it can take time for insurance payments to process, so review the details to see if any are still processing. If there’s a line item that says pending or refused by the insurance company, then it’s time to call and find out why.
Each medical procedure and service has its own specific code. It’s also used for certain diagnoses as well. These codes are used by medical billing staff to process payments and determine the amount of coverage through the insurance company. It’s easy to look these codes up online through a simple search, if you’re unsure what it pertains to.
A code error or extra code entered by the doctor or medical staff can lead to overcharges and if the insurance company doesn’t pay, you’re likely going to be on the hook. In these instances, it’s necessary to contact the doctor or medical care provider to resolve the error.
For those who have multiple insurance plans or haven’t met their annual deductible, medical bills can be hard to understand. If an individual has disability insurance or recently changed insurance coverage, the statements may include factors that cause confusion. In this case, you should call the main insurance company and give them information about additional plans you have.
Check closely for intentional overcharges that may or may not be covered. For example, being charged for an MRI when it was only a standard x-ray can be a huge cost difference. Even if the insurance company pays for it, it’s an error and should be corrected.
Find an Error?
If you find any errors or mistakes on a medical bill, the first thing to do is contact the phone number on the bill. This should be the first action towards resolving the issue. If it’s something that can be fixed immediately, payments will be refunded. In case of a dispute, be sure to document the phone call including the date, time and person you spoke to, and note what the error is.
Medical bills can be difficult to understand, but keeping the lines of communication open with the billing company is important for a resolution. Tackling small disputes now can reduce the impact of a charge affecting credit ratings down the road.
If your finances are tight, you can seek help paying bills by checking out local and online resources.
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!
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