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Catch and Avoid Medical Billing Errors

When you’re watching your wallet, every penny counts. You may have a system for saving a few extra dollars here and there – whether it’s clipping coupons, signing up for discounted deals in your area, or amending your budget from time to time. Another, somewhat surprising, way to save is to review your healthcare and medical bills for errors.

Review Your Medical Bill

Medical billing errors are all too common. And unfortunately, most mistakes are never caught because consumers don’t take the time to verify the charges before making a payment. So before you think about paying your bill, make sure you review it, line by line, to confirm everything is correct. You may save yourself hundreds of dollars or more over the course of a year.

If you’re covered by health insurance, start by comparing your bill to the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement you received from your healthcare provider. The EOB should show you the date of service, the service provided, the name of the doctor or healthcare facility, the standard rate for the service or procedure, the amount that your plan covers, and the amount you may owe. While the amount you owe may not be exactly equal to the amount you’re billed, it should be close. If it’s off by more than 10 to 15 percent, it’s time to take a closer look.

If you have health insurance, take the time to review your policy – including co-pays or coinsurance amounts, what procedures, office visits and/or medications are covered, and your deductible. While you may spend a bit of time confirming you were charged correctly, you may also uncover charges that aren’t accurate.

And if you’re not covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, it’s even more important to review your bill for errors. Medical costs can be pretty pricey and difficult to cover on your own. Take a look at the date of service, name of the provider, and the services you received. If anything seems inaccurate, don’t pay the bill until you’ve verified the amounts you were charged.

How to Handle Billing Errors

Billing mistakes may be due to a number of factors. The billing representative may have applied the wrong insurance plan to your bill, you may have mistakenly been double charged for a service, or it’s possible there is a typo that led to inaccurate billing amounts.

Whatever the case, if you find a mistake on your bill, your first call should be to your health insurance company, if you’re covered. Verify with your insurance company the amounts listed on the EOB, as well as the bill itself. Some charges that appeared on your bill may not have shown up at the time the EOB was printed, but the insurance company may now have a record of those additional fees.

Once you’ve verified charges with your insurance company, call the customer service phone number printed on the bill itself. When calling to discuss possible errors on your bill, be sure to have your policy handy so you can confirm coverage with the customer service rep. Let them know what charges you’re disputing and why you think you were billed incorrectly. Also let them know you’ve done your due diligence by reviewing your EOB, comparing it to the bill, and verifying charges with your insurance provider.

Once an error is uncovered, don’t expect immediate resolution. While sometimes the mistake is minor and the customer service rep can adjust your bill quickly, right over the phone, in many cases it’s a lengthier process.

The customer service rep may need to verify the details of your insurance policy and coverage, file a complaint or dispute on your behalf, or wait for a supervisor and/or additional party to confirm an erroneous charge before getting back to you. So when you speak with someone, be sure to record their name, the date you called, and the details of your conversation, as you may need to refer to this information at a later date.

Request a Revised Bill

Anytime you call customer service to discuss a bill – medical or otherwise – the billing representative is trained to collect payment as quickly as possible. So don’t be surprised if the health provider requests payment over the phone, even for the reduced amount of the bill. Just explain to the person that you’d like a revised copy of the bill for your records. It’s to your benefit to do so, as you’ll want an accurate copy for record-keeping and tax purposes -- and as a bonus, it may give you a little extra time to pay your bill.

Once you receive a revised bill, go through the same drill again to confirm its accuracy before you pay. Remember – a few minutes of your time could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in mistaken charges.

If you’re unable to pay the amount of your medical bill, The Providers of CareOne Debt Relief Services can help. We offer a variety of solutions to help you manage unsecured debt, including medical debt. Learn how CareOne can help

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