Dispute Medical Billing Errors and Reduce Your Medical Bill Costs


How to Dispute Hospital Billing Errors

According to the New York Life Insurance Company, the average medical bill has $600 worth of errors. This not only comes out of the insurance company's pocket, it comes out of your pocket, either in cash or in increased premiums. You scrutinize your phone bill and your auto repair bill, why not your hospital bill?

There are several reasons for billing errors. Some are human error and others are just errors of the system. The eight most common billing errors according to MSN Money Central (resources) are duplicate billing, number of days in the hospital, incorrect room charges, operating room time, up-coding (charging more for the same item, i.e. generic vs. name brand), keystroke errors, and services never rendered.

Being in the hospital is difficult no matter what the circumstances. Do your best to follow these steps that could help you dispute errors on your bill later.

  1. Keep track of your care. If you can write in a notebook it would be very helpful. How many times does your blood get drawn every day? Was that test an MRI or a CAT scan? If you cannot keep track of basic services, it would be a good idea for a family member to try to keep up with it.


  2. Ask questions. Ask the doctor, ask the nurse, ask them what kind of test that is, why your blood has to be drawn twice a day, etc. Doctors are usually very willing to help the patient take part in or understand the care they are receiving. Make sure you jot these questions and answers in your notebook.


  3. Always ask for an itemized bill. You may meet some resistance on this, "its out of our control" usually means, "you'll get what you get next month in the mail." Don't hesitate to call the hospital's administration to request the itemized bill if it doesn't come that way.


  4. Check the room rate and number of days you were charged for the room. Hospitals have different rates for private, semi-private, two-person, and four-person rooms. Make sure they match what you actually had.


  5. Check the equipment usage rates. Were you on oxygen? For how long? Was the equipment removed from the room during your stay (after you didn't need it). Is that reflected in the bill?


    Being billed for drugs that were not administered and tests that weren't performed are very common mistakes. You are also billed for general supply items that are in your room when you get there. You are billed for what is not there when you check out. If there inventory is inaccurate or something was borrowed for another patient, if it is not replaced, you will be billed for it.


  6. If you feel that your medical bill is incorrect, cooperative negotiation with the hospital's administration department is the first step. Have your facts in order and speak to them in a respectful, as-a-matter-of-fact tone. Hostility will usually delay or prevent any sort of negotiation. If you are in doubt about the bill, not understanding many of the codes, etc. you may contact a professional bill reviewer.




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