How to Dispute Hospital
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.