How to Write a Medical Bill Dispute Letter

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If you’ve recently found yourself burdened with stacks and stacks of extremely high medical bills, you are probably worrying about how you are going to pay them. Healthcare in the United States can be costly, and sometimes even the smallest procedures or the shortest hospital stays can cause a financial burden. However, you should never let the accumulation of medical debt, or even bankruptcy, become an option. By writing a medical bill dispute letter, you can begin to resolve some of the issues that make your medical bills seem so impossible.

medical bill disputeSavings will come when you establish the fact that nothing is impossible; not even disputing your medical bills. Each day, thousands of Americans receive bills that they just can’t afford to pay. Each day, a small percentage of those Americans fight these high costs, and come out on the winning side. The only difference between the first group and the second group is knowing how to approach a dispute the right way. Learning how to craft the perfect medical bill dispute letter can begin to ease some of these financial troubles immediately.

Without a doubt, medical bills can be confusing. Unless you’re a doctor, nurse, or similar healthcare professional, it’s difficult to understand where your charges stem from, or which ones might be false. Most often, patients pay their medical bills in full simply because they don’t feel there’s another option. However, even before writing your medical bill dispute letter, it’s important to understand that most bills contain many errors.

Some of the most common mistakes found on medical bills include clerical errors, duplicate charges, billing for procedures that were never performed, and charges for medications you never received. Without carefully evaluating the detailed itemized statement you receive from your provider, you may pass over these mistakes, and end up paying far more money than you should have. If there is an item on your detailed itemized statement you feel you may not have received or was unnecessary to your diagnosis, request a copy of your medical records to verify if this test or procedure was performed and/or ordered. Simply call the medical record department of the hospital or provider and state that you want the medical records pertaining to the days you were under care.

After analyzing your bills and deciding which charges you’d like to dispute, it’s now time to create your medical bill dispute letter. This written notice will be the first step in fighting these disputed charges. Be sure to write the letter as soon as possible and to provide essential details like your account information, details on the charges you’re disputing, and a statement that explains why they are being disputed. Provide any supporting documentation that may be available along with your letter. This medical bill dispute letter will help your hospital or doctor understand why you feel these charges aren’t your responsibility. Therefore, make sure to write your letter in a clear, detailed, thoughtful manner. After all, it’s one of the best weapons against these pricey and possibly fraudulent fees.

After sending your medical bill dispute letter on its way, it’s important to remain patient. The process of disputing bills is never fast or easy, but in the end, it is usually worth it. If you face resistance in the beginning, don’t give up. Countless Americans have successfully disputed their medical bills, often enlisting the help of a medical billing advocate. There’s simply no reason you can’t count yourself among them.

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Pat Palmer
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30 responses to “How to Write a Medical Bill Dispute Letter”

  1. Barbara Gill says:

    A few years ago, my son-in-law severed an artery in his wrist with a drill. He had insurance, but due to the fact that he had a heart attack when he was 39, he couldn’t increase his coverage or change insurance. My daughter drove him to emergency since his insurance didn’t cover the ambulance. He almost passed out from loss of blood. He was taken into surgery and a doctor sewed up his artery. About a month later, he got a bill for $60,000 for the surgeon (not covered because he was out of network) and $20,000 for the emergency room and tests. The insurance paid less than half of the emergency room. The rest fell on his shoulders. He was making monthly payments (as much as he could). He got a call saying that he wasn’t paying enough and according to their income, that they felt he could pay more. He was so depressed and was working extra jobs to make enough money to cover these bills. They hounded him at work and day and night on his cell phone. He stopped taking his meds and stopped going to the heart doctor. He died of a heart attack at age 51. He needed bypass surgery but refused to be humiliated by anymore doctors.

    • Christie Hudson says:

      I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your son-in-law.

      It is unfortunate that he was unable to upgrade his insurance prior to his accident. However, keep in mind that some insurance companies will pay out-of-network charges in an emergency situation. If that bill still exists, we would be happy to look it over. Give us a call at 855-203-7058.

  2. E'dit Martinez D. says:

    Dear Ms. Hudson,

    I stumbled upon your website/forum regarding people who are struggling to pay medical bills. I myself have received a medical bill for which I had to see emergency room on two injured hands. I suffered a dog bite which inflamed my hand and I suffered a door jam with my other hand, both within days. I do not understand how this could happen to me suddenly. I had been seeing my doctor, but the pain led to the ER. I did have x-rays done on one hand because the dog bite injury was caused by my brother’s dog which had never come to the family home. He is a german shepherd. He would have caused more harm or probably would have killed me had not my niece been present to stop him. My total bill is over $1500 dollars and I have called the week following and filed a grievance with the administration office becausae while I was in a patient room, I was given a pain medication called Tramadol. I suffer from dysphagia (swallowing and choking episodes) and have so for years. The tramadol nearly killed me after I read the information about this drug. It was crushed by the nurse and I had taken with apple sauce I brought to keep my throat from closing. I have been carrying juice, fruit sauces to prevent episodes of choking. I read where tramadol must not be crushed and can cause seizures, slow rate, and death. I called for help and asked for oxygen because I could not breathe and my chest felt heavy. She dismissed it as anxiety. The cat scan I had was the same equipment as the first cat scan in another location. Both of these scans were locations of Hermann hospital. I paid for the first one was $52.00 dollars, but I billed an exhorbitant amount for the second one at ER. For all that I have endured with regards to how I was managed and handled does not fit the reasoning of this bill. Now, I have received a letter or bill from an attorney representing the hospital. I would like to know if you recommend andy advice on what I can do to eight fight and/ or dispute this bill. I’ve had no insurance since 2004 for caring for my elderly father. My father recently passed away and I am now caring for my eighty year old mother. I have not generated income in the last few years since my father was ailing until his passing. When I worked temporary in between when my father was stable, I did not earn enough to support a monthly insurance premium. I’ve had to put the most important things first which are my parents. Please help if there is recourse for me. Thank you.

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your hospital experience. So many people have had similar situations throughout the U.S. My suggestion would be to question the attorney as to why you don’t qualify for charity assistance with no income. Second, were you given an uninsured discount on billed charges? Have you had someone review your charges for your accuracy? Hospital bills can be (and usually are) full of non-billable charges. Please give us a call if you would like us to review your charges. 855-203-7058.

  3. Amy says:

    Pat,
    You are very knowledgeable about fighting bills at the hospital. I am currently trying to dispute bills from the ER. Here is what happened:
    I was planning a home birth but had to be transmitted last minute due to baby having an elevated heart rate. I delivered in the ambulance a mile from the hospital. I asked the EMS to take me back home was informed they had to take me to the ER. When I arrived at the ER I declined any care before they even wheeled me into the hospital. I wanted to go home. THe situation that was emergent had passed and I had two midwifes with me to finish care with me and my new baby. I did not have a car seat with me so my mom went back to my house to pick it up. The ER manager asked if we would go into one of there rooms so we would not be waiting in the halls. I explained that we did not want to be seen and that we could wait outside if needed. He said that he had spoken to his ER director and we would not be receiving care. Later the ER physician came in and I refused care again. No care was ever given to me or my baby. Later I received a bill from both the physician and the ER department. I called the director and she said due to EMTALA laws they had to evaluate me and my baby and that is why I received a charge. No evaluation was given, no one ever laid a hand on me or my baby nor did any evaluating. I have looked into the EMTALA law and saw that you technically are not presenting to ER if you are on a non-owned ambulance. Can I actually fight these charges?

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation, but congratulations on the birth of your baby!
      Based on the information provided, I would suggest that you request a detailed, itemized statement of all charges from your ER visit. They must provide you with this if you ask. Also, request a copy of your medical records. See if these itemized charges match what is on your medical records.
      I do need to state that EMS staff might be obligated to have a patient evaluated once that patient is in their care (a passenger in the ambulance), based on the situation.
      If you need help with this, please don’t hesitate to call us.

  4. Debra says:

    I wonder about charges by an HMO dentist who is supposed to bill according to the HMO fees correct? How can they collect “co-pays” that my insurance plan states I have ZERO co-pay and charge over the allowable amount for a crown (insurance says $300, they billed me $650). Can you help? I’m only asking for the disputed portion to be returned (I paid in full as they would not do the work any other way). I didnt’ find out the discrepancies until I received my insurance explanation of benefits. When I contacted the dentist, their office staff just kept explaining the charges on the “patient informed consent” that I signed (which I assumed they would bill as experts the insurance allowed amounts). Why otherwise be an HMO practitioner if they don’t abide by the HMO fees?

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      Does the insurance EOB state that the dentist is in-network and that you are not responsible for the difference between $300 and $650? If the EOB states that you are not responsible and your responsibility is zero, then I would strongly suggest sending a copy to the billing supervisor requesting a refund for that amount.

  5. Chris Trytten says:

    My wife was scheduled by her Dr. for eye surgery at a local hospital for which she was instructed to take no food or water after midnight on the day of the surgery. She took no medicines with her to the surgery, and was dismissed a few hours after the surgery and I drove her home. She is covered by both Medicare and Tricare for life insurance. We were surprised a few months later to receive a bill for medications which were not covered by the insurance since they we called “self administered meds”. She took only what the medical staff at the hospital told her to take IAW the procedure she was undergoing. I challenged those charges and asked the hospital for an audit of the charges so I could determine what and why I was billed for these uncovered meds. They said only “Pay up or we will turn it over to a debt collector immediately.” what can I do so my credit rating is not damaged?

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      Request a detailed itemized statement of all charges. Send a letter of dispute to a supervisor in the billing department stating your concern and requesting they put your account on hold until your dispute is resolved. Determine what the self-administered drugs are your wife was charged for, then verify that they were in fact received by her. You can also verify that these medications were requested and/or ordered by the physician by requesting the doctor’s notes from the medical record department. If they were not ordered by the physician, they cannot be charged for.

  6. LIsa says:

    On July 29th. I had a vaginal prolapse surgery done, along with that surgery there was supposed to be a bladder sling placed in. the doctor punctured my bladder and couldn’t perform that part of the surgery. In the months to follow my prolapse returned and my bladder issues were worse than before we started this whole mess. I called and went for visits to my doctor a few times within a 3 month span. He assures me this is a normal healing process, he starts me on a medication for bladder spasms, then I started PT to strengthen my pelvis. Within a couple weeks of PT the pain in my back and neck was out of control! They told me it was my back and neck very upset with me trying to fix a deep rooted problem. So, I have learned how to strengthen my back, neck and pelvis in 4 month process. I have accumulated thousands of dollars of medical bills in this 7 month, very long, very upsetting journey . I just don’t think I should be responsible for this doctors mistake. The hospital should disregard my medical bill with them and cover my medical bills that have stacked up from this blotched surgery. Am I right or wrong? What should I do? Thank you, Lisa

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      From the information given, this sounds like something called a “never event”. Charges associated with a “never event” might not be billable. Please give us a call to discuss this in more detail at 855-203-7058.

  7. Jacqueline Torres says:

    So, my husbands situation is very different but i’m hoping i can get some information if there is anything at all we could do. My husband was on a motorcycle and had a very bad accident with a truck. He suffered broken ribs, broken jaw, broken clavicle and internal bleeding. It will be three years in March and we barely got a notice that the bills were sent for recovery to the Department of Treasury. He was uninsured and the vehicle involved in the accident was insured. We were told that the lady involved blamed him and We are now $145,000 in dept because of this! It is so unfair, i dont know some one who would be pain tolerant enough to take explain an accident at the scene. My husband makes just enough money to get our bills paid and support our two girls. I just hope there is some kind of help.

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      I’m so sorry for your family’s situation. I hope he has healed well.
      It is difficult for us to offer any information without more details. Please give us a call at 855-203-7058.

  8. David says:

    I recently received a bill totaling almost $7000 after I was treated for a sinus infection. I had just gotten a new job and was trying out a high deductible plan because I usually don’t get sick. Prior to that, I was with an HMO for many years. Murphy’s law struck and I needed to seek medical care in a hurry with the high deductible plan. The clinic that I went to sent my lab tests to a lab out of state, and that lab sent me a $5600 bill for the tests. I called the lab numerous times asking for an explanation of the charges on the bill and for them to put the charges on hold, but they refuse to budge. The best offer I got is a payment plan. Even though I was eventually able to change my insurance plan, the insurance company isn’t able to do anything either. Still, paying $5000+ for some lab tests seems a bit unreal. What more can I do?

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      Based on the information you have provided, this amount does not seem fair or reasonable. Please give us a call so that we may get more details and help you. (855) 203-7058

  9. […] you spot errors or unfair charges, you can call the provider or insurance company, or write a letter disputing the charges. Sticking up for yourself can take a lot of time and energy, but if you think you have a chance of […]

  10. Ron Dinkel says:

    I received a bill from emergency room doctors. I asked about my insurance and they said they were not in agreement with the ins at that time. It was a major ins company. The hospital stood behind the dr. I asked how could I be responsible for a bill when I did not know the dr were not affiliated with my major ins co?
    Any options?

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      Was the emergency room in your health insurance network? What do you mean by “not in agreement”? We would like to look more closely at the details. Please give us a call at 855-203-7058.

  11. Girish says:

    In 2014 dec my wife underwent tubal ligation and the doctor’s office billed with laproscopic total hysterectomy which was incorrect. This started the saga of contacting my insurance who asked me to work with providers – anesthesia, lab, hospital and the doctor’s office. The doctor’s office realized the mistake whe I spoke to them. The anesthesia company corrected and resubmitted and insurance paid. The hospital refused to resubmit citing they used correct codes. My insurance company asked me to work with hospital to resubmit and I wanted to end the stress and just paid the hospital co pay. I also paid the lab too. Yesterday I received a bill from my doctor’s office asking for payment and the bill statement is still showing hysterectomy instead of tubal ligation. I am fed up and looking for legal course this time around. Is it worth fighting a legal battle? I have retained all bills and Eob so far. Thanks for any advise you can provide.

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      We help consumers fight cases similar to this on a regular basis. Please give us a call so that we can get more details on your individual case. 855-203-7058.

  12. Jorge Velasquez says:

    Hello Pat,

    I have been for the past few months dealing with an EXTRA charge on my account. I called and the Rep even stated that it was a mistake, I also got a letter stating the same and that it would be removed. YET, I am still getting the bill as “Pay Now, Past Due”
    What or how can I get this resolved… thank you, Jorge

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      Jorge, thank you for your question. This type of situation happens very frequently, unfortunately. The facility/provider will admit to a mistake, but actually getting the right person to fix the mistake can be a headache. Here’s what you can do: Contact the manager/supervisor of the billing department and let him or her know about the situation. Tell him or her that you even have a letter admitting the mistake and stating that it will be removed. Let the manager know that the situation must be cleared up within a certain amount of time of your choosing (i.e. 14 business days), or that you will be forced to go over his or her head. Let the manager know that you require a corrected bill be mailed to you immediately. If you have any further issues, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Best of luck!

  13. Jordan says:

    Hello
    I was transported to the E.R via ambulance on FEB 5th 2016 after fainting from donating plasma and being dehydrated. I fell on my face and split open just under my lip, however besides having my lip split open i had no other medical issues from falling. My problem is that, the ambulance chose the hospital they took me to, which happened to be an out of network hospital, and now the hospital is billing me for services received from them. I don’t think because i didn’t willing go to the hospital those charges should fall on me. I also noticed on the bill that they billed me for a cat scan twice and they only did one cat scan. All in all I just feel like its not my responsibility to pay for the cost they are saying i owe them, which is 19k! For some fluids, a cat scan, and to glue up my lip. What should i do??

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      Double billing is a very common issue in medical bills and if we were to dig a little deeper into your bill, it’s very possible that we would find other non-billable items. Also, in a true emergency situation, sometimes it’s possible to get your health insurance to pay for treatment in an out-of-network hospital. We would like to look further into this situation for you. Please give us a call at 855-203-7058 at your earliest convenience.

  14. Nicole says:

    My husband had emergency appendix surgery over 6 years ago and the hospital sent us one bill and then has never contacted us since. We didn’t even get a call from a collection agency to let us know it had gotten that far. We were wondering what your thoughts were on our position.

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      The laws for collecting debt vary by state, and without knowing more details, I might suggest talking to an attorney who is familiar with your individual state’s laws. Six years is an excessively long time to not be billed for a healthcare service. Are you being contacted by a collection agency now or did you notice this on your credit report?

  15. Dear Pat,

    I stumbled upon your website and I am wondering if you would be able to lend me some advise in regards to a medical billing situation I have recently found myself in. Any advise would be appreciated. I am contemplating disputing some medical charges on a medical bill I received earlier this month. I had to have surgery on my wrist which was outpatient. I have been reviewing the bill and I have charges on there for extended recovery time in PACU, additional charges for being in the operating room, charges for needing additional anesethia. I am questioning those charges. I have contacted the billing department twice about this. They keep telling me that the charges are justified. I beg to differ. No one explained to me why I was in the OR longer. No one has explained to me why I needed to be in the PACU for an extended about of time and I would like to know what there definition of extended time is. No one explained to me the additional need for anesthia. I think I am justified in disputing these charges seeing no one can give me an explain as to why these are on my bill. The charges for these services are ridiculous. I have a bill of $4000,00 that needs to be paid to this outpatient surgery facility. Given the situation I just explained to you, do you think I should disput those charges?

    • Pat Palmer Pat Palmer says:

      You are absolutely justified in questioning any charges that you do not agree with. After more than 22 years in the field of disputing erroneous medical billing charges, I can tell you that two areas that are notorious for medical billing mistakes are the OR and the recovery room. If you are having difficulties getting an answer for why they are charging you extra in these areas, please give us a call. We will be more than happy to help. 855-203-7058

  16. Dear Pat,

    Thank you for your advise. It’s much appreciated. I am in the process of requesting my medical records, this being the operative report and other medical records from this outpatient surgical facility. I want those before I write them a letter about this situation. I will see how far I get and if I continue to face issues with this, I will contact you.

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