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9 out of 10 medical bills contain errors (Hint: this means your bills)

How to spot the 7 most common medical bill errors  

Eric Michael David recently reported his $20,000 bill for his son's bruise as a prime example for how medical bills contain errors. As a doctor, he was well-aware of medical bill errors--and knew that a small bruise on his son's forehead should never cost $20,000. After much negotiation, David was able to get the hospital to correct the bill, removing an erroneous $10,000 charge for a service that was never performed. 

According to Medical Billing Advocates of America, 9 out of 10 medical bills contain errors. These errors are said to raise the cost per medical bill an average of 25%. I don't know about you, but before my work in health insurance, I never looked at my medical bills--I simply paid them. I had no idea how common errors that lead to overcharges are and maybe you don't either.

With all the insurance jargon, it can feel overwhelming to check medical bills for accuracy--but it's necessary if you want to protect your wallet. Let's discuss seven common errors that might show up on your medical bills. 

1. Double billing

Being double billed is perhaps the most common error that might cost you. Check your bills to make sure you didn't get charged twice for the same procedure, drugs, or supplies.

2. Incorrect length of stay or incorrect room charges

It's common to see hospitals charge patients for an extra night or two in the hospital or for a private room when a semi-private room was actually used. Check your bill to make sure you were billed for the correct amount of time you stayed at the hospital. Also, if you stayed in a room with other patients, make sure you didn't get billed for a private room.

3. Canceled work

Another common medical bill error is charges for tests or procedures that were ordered and then cancelled. If your provider ordered a test or procedure and then cancelled it, you'll want to make sure this doesn't make it's way onto your bill.

4. Services that were never performed

In addition to any cancelled work, make sure you weren't charged for any services, tests, or procedures that were never performed. If you see charges you don't understand, call the provider and ask for clarification. 

5. Upcharges

Sometimes hospitals charge you for a more expensive procedure than performed. In the case of Eric Michael David and his son's $20,000 medical bill, he was billed $10,000 for "trauma team activation" when his son never saw a trauma team. Check your medical bills to make sure you weren't upcharged for services.

6. Inflated operating room fees

If you were in the OR for 20 minutes or two days, you should be billed accordingly. Check your bill to make sure you were billed for the correct amount of time you were in the OR. Typically, OR time is billed in 15 minute increments. 

7. Balance billing when you are in-network

According to Nerd Wallet, "balance billing is often improper when the care was provided by an in-network hospital or physician." Compare your bill with your EOB (Explanation of Benefits) to see if you've been billed for anything over the amount that your insurance covers. Your insurance company has negotiated rates with in-network providers and you shouldn't be charged more than these negotiated rates, when you visit an in-network provider. 

One of our specialities at Bernard Health is to help people like you find errors in medical bills and negotiate with providers. If you are in a tough situation with large medical bills, hiring one of our experts might be one of the best things you do for both your peace if mind and your wallet. 

If you liked this article, you may also like Do copays count toward the out-of-pocket maximum? The deductible?

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