Is My Medical Bill Wrong?

Cost of HealthcareThis question comes from a reader and the answer just may be yes.

It’s hard to believe but Sarah got a long bill from a hospital for her 9-year-old son who had to be rushed to the ER. When Sarah looked closely at the bill, she realized that included in the bill was a charge for a pap smear. Really? She called the hospital three separate times and they said they would look into it, however, they kept sending her the same bill.

She wrote and asked me what to do?

First, I told her to document every conversation in writing. Get the hospital representative’s name, title and either a physical address or an email address. After each conversation, document in writing the details on the conversation and the date and time you talked to the person.

She also needed to ask when the problem would be fixed. Often, the hospital has a different department who handles billing from the department who handles collections. You want to make sure that the error is fixed before you get sent to collections.

If she still wasn’t getting the problem fixed, I told her that every hospital has a patient relations department and a compliance department. Both departments are good resources when the billing department is not fixing the problem in a timely manner.

For Sarah, we found the compliance officer at the hospital and he fixed the problem immediately and apologized for the error.  

If Sarah still wasn’t able to get the problem fixed, she could have reported the hospital to the local healthcare fraud division. Billing a person’s insurance for the wrong service may be a simple mistake or it could be fraud. Your insurance company has a fraud division and so do the government insurance programs. For government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, you can contact them through their website.

Tell us whether you have found mistakes on your medical bills.  We’d love to hear from you!

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