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10 Things You Didn’t Know about Medical Bills

Medical bills are everyone’s favorite thing, right? Just kidding. We know they’re complex and confusing. Here are ten things you may not know about medical bills. Some of these you may find pretty shocking.

10 Things You Didn't Know about Medical Bills

1. 50-80% of Medical Bills Contain Errors

Shockingly, 50-80% of medical bills have errors on them! Don’t pay $1 more than you owe on your bill. There are several common errors to look for. Make sure you received your bill and not someone else’s. Make sure your insurance information and dates of service are correct. If you’ve already paid your deductible, make sure you’re not paying it twice.

2. You Should Always Match Your EOB to Your Bill

Whenever you go to the doctor, have surgery, etc., your insurance company will send you an Explanation of Benefits (EOB). This is a statement of what you were charged, what the insurance paid, and what you owe. It may look like Greek at first, but it’s very important.

Match that up with the bill(s) for the same healthcare event (episode of care). Do the numbers match up? If not, you may need to call and ask questions. Don’t assume it’s right and pay.

3. Request a Detailed (Itemized) Medical Bill

The bill you usually get from your doctor or hospital probably won’t be itemized, meaning it won’t list all of the changes line by line. In order to match your bill up to your Explanation of Benefits (EOB), you’ll need to request a detailed (or itemized) medical bill. This will allow you to review each charge to make sure it’s valid and matches what you’re seeing on your EOB.

4. You May Get Bills from Several Different Places for One Procedure

For example, if you have a knee arthroscopy, you’ll receive 3 bills – one from the doctor, one for the anesthesia, and one from the facility itself. This is normal.

5. A Provider Can Bill You for Long After Your Procedure Is Completed

It may sound crazy, but providers can generally bill you for at least up to two years after you receive care. They’re allowed to go back and review their books and bill for any missed charges.

6. Unpaid Medical Bills Can Send You into Collections!

Ignoring a medical bill can damage your credit score just as much as bad credit card debt can. One unpaid medical bill can drop your credit score by 100-200 points. Unpaid medical bills are sent to collection every day. Don’t let it happen to you. Communicate with your providers. Set up a payment plan with them and get a confirmation of what you’ve agreed to in writing.

7. You May be Able to Negotiate a Medical Bill

If you have a large medical bill that you can’t pay in full, you may be able to negotiate a settlement. Call your provider’s billing department and ask if they’ll take 30% of your balance in cash as a settlement up front. If you don’t have cash up front, or set up a payment plan. Going back to #6, don’t ignore your bill. You don’t want to be sent to a  collections agency.

8. 50% of Bankruptcies in the US Are Caused by Unpaid Medical Claims

Half of bankruptcies in America today are related to unpaid medical bills. People are being crippled by the weight of the debt. If you’re struggling with a medical bill, contact us.

9. ICD-9 Changes to ICD-10 This Year

All of the charges on your medical bill correspond to a medical code. The coding system healthcare professionals use to charge you for services is changing from ICD-9 to ICD10 this year. ICD9 contains 13,000 different codes, whereas ICD-10 has 68,000! Medical billing and coding specialists are going to have to learn all of these new codes and apply them correctly.

10. Financial Help May be Available

Hospital bills can be extremely expensive depending on the type of care you receive. Most hospitals have financial counselors that may be able to help you with your expenses. Search their website for Financial Assistance resources for more information.

Share Your Story

Medical bills can be complex and confusing, especially when they come during a time of health crisis for you or your family. We hope these 10 facts helped you learn more about medical bills and safeguard yourself from overpaying or not paying at all. Have you had a crazy experience with a medical bill that you’d be willing to share? Enter it in the comments below.

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