Helpful Hints for Scrutinizing your Hospital Bills

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medical bills coupleMedical Billing Advocates of America has seen a lot of abusive billing practices in the healthcare industry in the past 20 years. From charges for teddy bears and boxes of tissues to double and even triple billing, the advocates at MBAA know what to look for when scrutinizing your hospital bills.

The first important thing to know when you want to try to find errors and over-charges on your hospital bills is that if you are going by the summary of charges, you’re not looking at the whole picture. You must ask the facility for a detailed, itemized statement of all of your charges. They must provide you with this – it is your right to receive this itemized statement. You might be told that once you have left the hospital that you cannot receive this. That is false. You can receive a detailed, itemized statement years after the healthcare service is performed. If you get the run around over the phone, ask for the supervisor of the billing department.

Once you have received the itemized statement, look at every line item. Do you remember receiving everything that you were billed for? Do you see the same charge more than once? For medicines and supplies, you are the best person to look over these charges because you know what you received and what you didn’t. If you see anything questionable on the statement, contact the billing department and ask for an explanation of the charge.

If you had surgery, you want to pay particular attention to this area of charges. Operating room charges very often account for overcharges of tens of thousands of dollars. Double billing and triple billing are very common in charges for the operating room. When patients are billed for the use of the operating room, that charge includes the use of certain supplies. However, when you scrutinize your hospital bill, you might find that you have been charged for a “kit” in the operating room. This kit’s charges often include supplies that are already included in the cost of the operating room. Many times, you will find separate charges for those same supplies on your bill, meaning you have been charged three times for the same item.

But there are dangers of even more expensive errors in the operating room. Patients are charged by the minute when they have surgery in an operating room. It’s not unusual for this fee to range from $60-$200 per minute. Because the rate for using the OR is so expensive, it’s imperative that you know exactly how long you were in surgery. Being charged for five extra minutes can cost you up to $1,000! If you know that you are scheduled for surgery, ask a family member to keep up with the time that you are in the operating room, if possible. You can also ask to see the surgeon’s notes, which will list the start and end time for the operation. Likewise, make sure you check that you were not overcharged for time in the recovery room. Use of this area is also charged for by the minute. If you were ready to go to your hospital room but a nurse or aide was not available to take you back, you should not be charged for that time that you were waiting in the recovery room.

If you need help scrutinizing your detailed, itemized statement, or if you are having trouble getting this statement, contact the advocates at MBAA at 855-203-7058. We are here to help you navigate your medical bills!



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2 responses to “Helpful Hints for Scrutinizing your Hospital Bills”

  1. Rebecca says:

    What do you do when you are billed for an urgent care visit with CPT code 99283 which is actually an emergency room code? Healthcare facility is claiming that they are using the correct code, but I didn’t go to an emergency room. I went to an actual urgent care facility.

  2. Lorna says:

    I see a nurse practitioner, but bill is seen by doctor, and some visits are as high as $2000+, plus $200 for office visit and any test performed.
    Is this normal billing?