Guest Post: Getting a handle on your medical bills

Medical Papers and Glasses In our effort to leverage the content that we provide to our readers with fresh, relevant pieces with new perspectives, we have chosen the below guest post written by Brenda Panin. While we haven’t had to personally deal with medical bills much at this point, this is a great outline of things to think of prior to really needing the information. It is great content, so please enjoy!

 

Get a Handle on Your Medical Bills

Medical insurance can be complicated especially if you have overlapping coverage under two or more policies, or if you have a flexible spending or medical savings account. The best way to avoid overcharges, lapses in coverage, and to challenge any claim decision, is to organize your medical bills. Although you may know exactly what your insurer will pay for any procedure, the provider (hospital or doctor) may not comply with your insurer. You’ll need an organizational system that allows you to match up all of your medical documents. Otherwise, you could end up paying far more out-of-pocket than is necessary.

First Things First

Get a handle on the bills themselves before you start the rest of the organization procedure. It’s easiest to use a filing cabinet with hanging folders or a large accordion folder. Before you begin the sorting process, label each file. For example, you will probably need a separate file for each provider (City Hospital, Dr. Grayson, Tri-County Lab Services, etc.). Create labels for prescription information, insurance forms, and insurance correspondence.

    1. Gather together all of your bills and separate them according to the provider of service (hospital, clinic, lab, etc.).
    2. For each provider, arrange the bills so that the most current is on top and the oldest bill is on the bottom.
    3. Locate each provider’s explanation of medical benefits (EOMB) and sort them in the same way: the most recent on the top of the stack and the oldest on the bottom. Never throw these away; the EOMB will tell you the status of every charge—if it was paid or denied. Don’t forget to include any supplemental provider’s information. These payment statements will have the date of the service and the payment amount. There should be an EOMB for each medical bill.

Match the Provider to the Insurance Carrier

1. Match the payment statements from each insurer to the bill and EOMB from each provider. Arrange them in the same order: most current to the oldest.
2. Separate out any duplicate statements—to be checked later to make sure they are simply duplicates and not double billings.

When you finish, you will have matched every provider’s bill and EOMB to the insurance provider who is covering the expenses. Read through each carefully to be sure that the charges and payments are correct.

Further Refining Your Filing System

Even a short hospital stay can result in many different billings from various providers. Keep a separate file for every hospital stay and doctor’s visit. Staple together every receipt for prescriptions, every claim form, every lab bill, and every piece of correspondence. That way, you will have a chronological history of each event.

Don’t Leave Anything to Chance

Many providers will bill all of your insurance claims for you. Even so, you will still get bills, statements regarding benefits, and other correspondence from the provider and the insurance company. And if your doctor or hospital won’t file your claims on your behalf, it is up to you to submit each claim. No matter who does the filing, make sure you understand everything on the bill and on the payment coverage statements. Call the appropriate customer service department if you have questions about anything. And as simple as it sounds, check every piece of correspondence to be sure your name is on it!

By organizing all of your medical documents, you will be better able to determine if your billing and insurance payments are correct. You’ll also be able to see at a glance if the primary insurer has paid a claim—you can’t file a claim with a supplemental insurer until the primary insurer has made their payment. People with flexible-spending accounts (FSA) absolutely need to keep track of all receipts. These insurance plans will have to have proof of medical expenditures. Having a filing system and staying on top of all documentation could save you a substantial sum of money in the long run, not to mention peace of mind because you can easily locate any document you need for a disputed claim.

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