5 Tips to Stay on Top of Your Hospital Bill

The Commonwealth Fund states that in 2007, 72 million Americans either experienced problems paying medical bills or accrued medical debt. Billing errors are often at the root of this problem, creating medical bills that patients can’t afford. Interpreting a hospital bill can be complicated and reviewing it line-by-line can be time-consuming and overwhelming.

It pays off to be informed. There are medical billers, medical coders, doctors and other health care professionals involved in each hospital stay. Miscommunication on any part can lead to mistakes. What can you do? Start by following these tips:

1. Plan ahead if possible – If your hospital stay is planned, make sure you double check your coverage before your hospital stay. This will enable you to verify the cost of any procedures and the amounts that will be covered.

2. Don’t leave the hospital without an itemized bill – Once you’re discharged, it is harder to obtain, so make sure you have it in your hand before you leave.

3. Keep track of everything – It is important for you to know who is treating you and exactly what they are doing. Make sure you ask questions and take names. Note: if you are unable to keep track of this information, have a spouse, family member or friends do it for you.

4. Don’t immediately pay the bill – Make sure you take the time to carefully go over the bill and understand what the charges are for. Once you pay the bill, it will be harder to re-coup your money if there are mistakes.

5. Make the hospital accountable – Don’t let the hospital ignore the erroneous charges and assure you that your insurance company will pay for it. Mistakes are mistakes and the hospital needs to correct errors.