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Are You Overpaying your Medical Bills

Posted Apr 06 2009 11:15pm
Good news for consumers. There are some simple steps you can follow to make sure you keep control of medical bills and make sure you are not being overcharged for services.

First, review your bill very carefully. You can request an itemized bill. Use free online tools to find out what other consumers paid for similar services using OutofPocket, CMS Medicare CPT look-up tools, and Vimo.

Second, you should know if your insurance covers your treatment. If your procedure falls into a gray area, you should submit letters and official paperwork from providers, including referrals that explain why the treatment was necessary.

Third, remember you always have an opportunity to negotiate down the charges. The total charges that appear on your medical bill have no relationship to what the provider will accept as payment in full.   Health care providers bill everyone the same amount, from Medicare to private insurers to the uninsured.   However, the full charges that appear on your bill are much higher than the provider’s actual costs.   The Government and private insurers negotiate a reduced price for services.   Here’s an idea to consider – start by asking your provider how much Medicare would pay for a procedure similar to yours.   Using this information, you should talk to the CFO or billing manager and ask for a reduction to the provider’s actual cost, plus 25%.   By the way, doctors have also suggested patients without insurance try this approach.

Fourth, hire an expert to help you review and appeal your medical bills. If your medical bills are complicated and large, you can hire a medical billing review service.

Source: Elizabeth Ody, “Some simple steps to keep control of medical bills,” Premium Health News Service, September 1, 2008.
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