Our Medical Bills Looked Wrong: We Challenged and Won!
Recently my wife and I received two medical bills in the mail that totalled $1,739.17. The dollar figure, insane as it was, wasn’t the craziest thing about these bills.
What I found most upsetting was the fact that both bills included major errors. Once corrected, it reduced what we owed to just $327.69, saving us $1,411.48. Here’s how I investigated our medical bills, and saved us well over a thousand dollars with just a little bit of effort.
If Something Looks Wrong It Probably Is
The first bill we received was for my annual preventative care appointment. This should have cost me nothing, thanks to my health insurance. Unfortunately, over six months after my appointment, I received a bill for $144.17. I was enraged once I realized they were trying to charge me almost $150 for a 10-minute doctor’s visit that should have been free.
I specifically mentioned when I scheduled the appointment that I wanted the free annual preventative care appointment that my insurance allows. The receptionist ensured me that is what I would receive when I scheduled the appointment. It appears the receptionist was wrong, so I knew I had to do more research myself to fix this error.
The second bill was even more insane. My wife had needed to visit the emergency room more than a year ago. We paid a bill or two in the months after the visit, so we thought we were done. A year later, we received a collections notice saying we owed $1,595 to the emergency room physician – a sum that wasn’t covered under the emergency room co-pay or the other emergency room charges we had already paid.
We were upset because we were never billed in the first place, yet we were about to be sent to collections over the bill. Clearly we’d need to look further into this bill, too.
Dig Deeper and Follow Up
If you ever get a crazy medical bill like the two that we received, you need to dig deeper. Figure out what you were charged for and if the bill is correct. You shouldn’t have to do this, but unfortunately, you are the person who ends up being responsible for making sure you were billed correctly if you don’t want to overpay.
For the first bill, I researched the only information available on the bill – the medical billing code. I Googled the code number and found out I was charged for a 45-minute new patient appointment. I didn’t even spend 45 minutes at the medical office, let alone with the doctor, so I knew this was incorrect.
As such, I called the billing department of my doctor’s office and they decided that they’d just write the balance off because the service was provided over six months ago, so my insurance wouldn’t accept a new billing code.
A little bit of research and a phone call resulted in saving $144.17.
The bill that was sent to collections was a bit more confusing. I initially called the collection agency to find out more about the bill. They stated that the bill was never run through insurance, so they would put our account on hold and not report it on our credit while they looked into the issue.
Unfortunately, they said it would take as long as 90 days to resolve the issue, which worried me. Instead, I followed up further by finding the original provider’s billing phone number and gave them a call. The original provider said that they had run the bill through insurance and we only owed $327.69. They told us that they would give the additional information to the collection agency. The next day, I called the collection agency, settled the amount we actually owed, and saved $1,267.31 on our bill.
THE MORAL HERE: IF YOU EVER GET AN INSANE MEDICAL BILL, LOOK FURTHER INTO THE BILL ITSELF.THE MORAL HERE: IF YOU EVER GET AN INSANE MEDICAL BILL, LOOK FURTHER INTO THE BILL ITSELF.
Research the billing codes to see if you were billed correctly. In addition, make sure that your insurance properly processed the bill, and that the insurance proceeds have been applied. Our medical system is so messed up that just doing those two things can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Good luck with your medical bills. I hope you’re billed correctly the first time!