If medical costs weren’t already high enough for those with no health insurance, billing errors are making matters worse. Nora Johnson, director of education for Medical Billing Advocates of America, estimates that 8 out of every 10 hospital bills her company investigates contain billing errors. These mistakes are creating serious debt issues for tens of thousands of patients, causing medical bankruptcy numbers to soar. Harvard university attributes 62% of bankruptcy cases to unaffordable medical costs.
Checking for Hospital Bill Errors
Billing errors for medical care are notoriously difficult for the layman to identify. Hospitals keep detailed records of what room costs, medical treatment, drugs and professional assistance a patient has received during their stay. The majority of mistakes occur when the bill is being quantified; most are simple calculation errors and omitances. There is a fundamental requirement that the patient asks for a copy of their hospital treatment record in order that a comparison can be made to determine whether the medical costs shown in the final bill are in fact accurate.
What Sort of Medical Costs Regularly Appear in Error?
- Medical treatments or other miscellaneous charges that were rejected by the patient.
- Duplicated charges.
- Treatments placed on the wrong patient record by mistake due to medical staff being busy.
- Individual charges for tests that should have been priced as a panel.
- Routine supply charges used by hospital staff. For example, hospital gloves and masks.
- Simple data entry errors.
- Incorrect calculation of room charges. For example, being charged for a private room rather than a semi private.
- Miscellaneous charges that are lumped together rather than individually specified.
Using a Third Party to Check for Hospital Bill Errors
The more complicated the medical procedure, the greater the likelihood of medical costs being incorrectly calculated. A patient can either perform this audit personally or employ the services of a professional company. A third party company will normally charge about 10% of any savings identified. This is an important consideration if unable to pay for medical costs due to serious debt problems. However, it is a positive thing if trying to protect personal savings from excessive medical care costs.
Hospital bill errors are rife as billing departments are extremely busy. Mistakes are inevitable, yet extremely costly for those with no insurance. This can lead to serious debt problem or even medical bankruptcy in the most extreme cases. Medicine is a very complicated profession so employing the services of a third party may prove to be the only sensible option.