How to make sense of a medical bill

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 @ 11:09

How to review your medical bill for inaccuracies

Medical bills can be really confusing. Anyone who has had a healthcare experience is probably familiar with receiving several documents from different providers and insurance companies, and struggling to understand whether they are correct.

Often, the more acute the healthcare experience, the more complicated the billing. On top of this, many medical bills contain errors.

Industry groups estimate as many as 80 percent of medical bills contain inaccuracies. In these instances, consumers often end up overpaying. Some people have even argued medical bills are overly complicated on purpose to keep most consumers from noticing when they have been overbilled.

The whole process can cause a lot of anxiety, especially after a medical scenario. So how can consumers ensure their bills are correct?

Below are some tips to help consumers feel more comfortable reviewing their medical bills.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

Where can consumers find help with health insurance?

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Sep 05, 2018 @ 09:09

What to do if you lose coverage

Many consumers have anxiety about getting health insurance right. There are several different strategies available for health coverage, but few comprehensive resources to help consumers evaluate their options.

Further, the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, one of the groups in Tennessee that helps consumers with health insurance, announced earlier this month that it won’t apply for federal funding to help consumers find coverage in 2019.

Through the Affordable Care Act, groups could apply for federal funding to train “navigators” to help consumers find, compare and enroll in health insurance. Funding for the program has been reduced, and the Tennessee Health Care Campaign said it would not compete with another navigator group in the state — Family and Children’s Services — for the funding.

As a result, already low resources for consumers will be further reduced. At the same time, many consumers in Tennessee will have more options than in previous years, including Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) plans, short-term plans, and non-ACA options.

This means more consumers will be in a position to make decisions between different kinds of coverage and will likely be looking for good advice. Despite a reduction in navigator services, there are still some places where consumers can find help.

Here are a few of these options.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

Losing health insurance coverage mid-year? 3 options for consumers

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Aug 13, 2018 @ 10:08

What to do if you lose coverage

Losing health insurance coverage mid-year can happen for a variety of reasons. Whether you have had a recent job change, a move or a change in your household resulting in a loss of coverage, this transition can lead to anxiety for consumers.

What are consumers supposed to do if they lose coverage in the middle of the year? Fortunately, the reasons described above, among others, are considered “qualifying events,” which means you can sign up for health coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces at any time of the year after experiencing them.

However, the marketplace isn’t your only option. There are other options for health coverage, and which one you choose will depend on a few different factors, including your health status, how long you expect to need new coverage and your income.

Below is an outline of these options and how consumers can think about them.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, surprise medical bills

Tennesseans have more health insurance marketplace options, but will consumers sign up?

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Aug 01, 2018 @ 09:08

Insurers re-entering Tennessee market

Next year, Tennessee consumers will have more options for coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces, as carriers reverse the trend of previous years and re-enter or expand in the state’s individual market.

Right now, five different insurance carriers have filed with the state to sell individual health plans in 2019. This is the most carriers selling in Tennessee’s individual market since 2016.

However, it is possible that fewer Tennesseans will enroll in this kind of coverage. Below, we’ll look at new options for Tennesseans and some factors to consider about marketplace plans versus other options.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, surprise medical bills

Three health care tools that will save you money

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 @ 09:07

How to use price-shopping tools 

Have you ever tried to price-shop for your health care? While consumers are usually familiar with doing so when it comes to buying most goods and services, health care has been different.

Typically, it has been really hard, if not impossible, to get an accurate sense of what health care visits and services will cost you ahead of time. 

Health care pricing has traditionally been very opaque, but as deductibles keep rising, consumers are paying for more and more of their own care. As a result, consumers are increasingly trying to find cost and quality information before they schedule a surgery or pick up a prescription.

Fortunately, new tools are available to make this process easier. While shopping for health care still isn’t as simple as running a quick search on Amazon, there are some websites and apps that can give you a general sense of what you might expect to pay. Let’s review three popular health care price-shopping tools — Healthcare Bluebook, MDSave and GoodRx.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, surprise medical bills

Five questions to ask before having a medical procedure

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Jul 02, 2018 @ 09:07

How to make more informed medical decisions

When planning a medical procedure, making a well-informed decision is really important. While this is not always possible during an emergency medical scenario, having as much information as possible for elective procedures can help you get the best care, as well as avoid surprise bills or inflated charges.

You may not be able to get an accurate estimate of how much a procedure will cost ahead of time, but there are several questions you can ask to minimize your exposure to financial risk.

Here are five questions to ask before having a medical procedure.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, surprise medical bills

Two reasons why TriStar Health is investing big in orthopedics

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 @ 10:06

Hospital competition and an aging population

Earlier this month, local hospital network TriStar Health announced a big expansion plan for its midtown campus, TriStar Centennial.

Included in the project is a $123.7 million plan to add four floors and a joint replacement center to the HCA Healthcare-owned hospital, expected to open early next year.

In announcing the project, TriStar representatives said the investments will allow the hospital network to meet the needs of the growing communities its hospitals serve.

Here are two other reasons the hospital network may be investing in orthopedics specifically, and hospital projects in general.

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Tags: healthcare, tristar, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

Why a higher uninsured rate means more expensive premiums

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Jun 06, 2018 @ 09:06

Premiums likely to rise in 2019

A new study by the Commonwealth Fund reports that the uninsured rate has been rising since 2016, and about 4 million more Americans are uninsured today than two years ago. 

One consequence of fewer insured Americans is that premiums will likely rise for the consumers who do continue to buy health insurance, beginning as early as next year.

We don’t know yet how much prices will increase, but we will have more information about this soon. Insurers have to decide this summer if they intend to sell individual coverage in 2019 and file with the state for any rate increases.

But before that happens, let’s understand why more Americans are going without insurance, and how that leads to more expensive coverage for consumers who do purchase health plans.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

Three healthcare costs your retirement plan should address

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, May 21, 2018 @ 07:05

Plan ahead for healthcare costs in retirement

Planning for retirement? Don’t forget health care. According to Fidelity Benefits Consulting, a 65-year-old couple retiring in the last year will spend $275,000 on health care, not including long-term care expenses.

This can be a real surprise for some consumers. There is a misconception that once a consumer reaches Medicare eligibility, there are no more out-of-pocket health care costs, but that is not the case.

Medicare does not cover everything, so planning ahead for health care expenses is a crucial part of a comprehensive retirement strategy. Here are three health care costs that can affect retirees.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

Healthcare tech: Why Nashville will beat Silicon Valley

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Fri, May 11, 2018 @ 06:05

The Silicon Valley model doesn't work in healthcare

Silicon Valley tech companies like Apple, Google and Uber are known for using technology in new ways to solve old problems, and sometimes, radically changing consumer behavior in the process. 

These three companies are reportedly pursuing health care investments, which could mean health care is the next industry to be disrupted by technology. 

Of course, these companies aren’t the first to tackle health care. Health care start-ups have been launched across the country, including in Nashville.

In fact, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Nashville’s business development nonprofit, launched a start-up accelerator focused on health care in 2016. Thirteen local companies were initially tapped to participate in Project Healthcare in 2017, launching solutions for everything from prescription drug abuse to health care staffing.

The advantage Nashville’s start-up community has over Silicon Valley is its depth of health care experience. Nearly 400 healthcare companies have operations in Nashville, contributing an economic benefit of $38.8 billion to the local economy, and more than $84 billion in revenues globally.

Nashville’s health care expertise gives Music City entrepreneurs a big competitive edge against comparable start-ups in Silicon Valley.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

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