How to Negotiate Your Hospital Bill

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medical-billing-advocate_103104014Hopefully, you’ve never had serious health issues that have resulted in a hospital stay. But if you have, you know that once your medical bills arrive, the financial stress can really take a toll on you. Adding to that stress is the surprise of a medical bill that is much higher than expected. This is an unnecessary stress to have to handle when you should be concentrating on recovering from your illness or injury. For this reason, numerous patients invoke the services of a medical billing advocate to negotiate their hospital bills. Reputable advocates will not charge a fee unless they uncover errors on your medical bills. However, if you would rather try your hand at fighting this alone, here’s what you need to know before you begin.

A Proactive Approach

Before you begin the journey of trying to negotiate your hospital bill, try finding ways to lower your bill even before it arrives at your door. Whether you are receiving in-network care or out-of-network care, discuss options with your doctor before a procedure is administered to you. Often, patients can receive deep discounts by offering to pay up front or in cash. Be honest with your doctor about your financial situation, because most of the time, he or she will be willing to help. If time permits, you can also shop around within your area for the best prices on procedures and treatments. If you find a neighboring facility who charges a lesser price for the same treatment, tell your doctor. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that he or she will reduce the cost to be more competitive and to keep their patients happy.

Want to know how to negotiate your hospital bill after it arrives? Research shows that up to eighty percent of medical bills contain errors such as double-billing, unbundled codes and incorrect codes, which means you’ll probably be asked to pay more than what is considered to be “Fair and Reasonable”. As soon as you have that hospital bill in your hand, it’s time to get started – don’t wait for problems to add up. Immediately request a detailed, itemized version of your hospital bills. Carefully scrutinize your bill, item by item, and make sure the charges make sense. Check for errors such as billing for drugs you didn’t take, services you didn’t use, or procedures that weren’t administered. If you are covered by health insurance, refer to your Explanation of Benefits (EOB), which is supplied by the issuing health insurance company and be sure you understand your coverage. If there is something you do not understand, ask your insurance company. They are there to answer any of your questions. If you were denied coverage or did not receive full or adequate coverage, contact your insurance company to discuss these issues. Often, issues such as these are simple clerical errors or the insurance company might not have received enough information from the provider. Keep in contact with the insurance company until you have achieved a fair result.

Help with Negotiating

You may not always know how to negotiate your hospital bill the right way, which is why you may need outside help. If the stress and time consumption of negotiating hospital bills is wearing on you, or if you are spinning your wheels with a provider or insurance company, contact an organization like Medical Billing Advocates of America. Medical billing advocates exist to help patients fight erroneous charges and lower their bills to “True and Accurate” charges and “Fair and Reasonable” pricing. Most of these experts will charge a fee if errors are found on your medical bills, but the money you save – as well as the time and hassle – will justify making that call for help. There’s no denying that the fight to dispute a medical bill can be difficult and overwhelming, but once you have successfully fought to obtain a correct billing amount, you’ll know you made the right choice. Knowing how to dispute and negotiate your hospital bill should prevent you from being forced to pay unfair prices for healthcare.

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