Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saving money on medical bills

I recently had a big personal victory on a medical bill I received. In May, I got a bill from the company that did my youngest son's newborn hearing screening when he was born-- the problem I had was that he was born in March 2009- and they were sending me the bill (for the first time) in May 2011. When I called (the first time- after multiple attempts and waiting on hold for extended amounts of time) to question the bill, they claimed that my insurance company denied the claim and that they have resubmitted multiple times and not gotten any response. The bill was for $226.00.

Now, I could have just paid the bill and been done with it. But, I knew that I did not owe them $226, and if I owed them anything, it was much less and that they needed to do something because I had not been notified of the claim in over two years. I called my former health insurance provider (we have a different provider now) and they were very nice and willing to send me the Explanation of Benefits Statement showing they approved the claim in June of 2009. I faxed that to the provider two separate times, with notes on the fax to please contact me- no response. I called again about 3 weeks later and they said they had corrected the account and that I owed them $84.44 and they were not sending a bill. I let them know I expected a bill before I would send them any payment-- and the next day I got one (it had already been printed- they just didn't know what they were talking about).

At this point, I could have just paid the $84.44 bill. However, by then they had really made me mad. Not only did they wait 27 months to bill me, they billed me for something I didn't owe, and I wasted so much of my time calling/ faxing/ etc. that I was not going to pay the entire balance. I called them and asked if due to the circumstances they would be willing to waive 50% of the balance because of their errors and inabilities. They offered to waive $15- only if I paid that day. I declined and figured I'd call back later and hope for better luck with someone else. A month passed- and I did not receive another bill.

I called about this balance this week- and was pleased to find out that as a courtesy, they waived my entire balance due to all the issues. Again, they didn't notify me.

The moral of the story- LOOK at and QUESTION your medical bills!! This is NOT the first time I had fought a medical bill (and won!). When my first son was born, I was charged for an extra night in the hospital- I got the hospital to pull my medical records and they were able to see that I was indeed overcharged and this saved me over $400.

Do not assume that medical facilities are correct. If you look at your Explanation of Benefits statements and medical bills, question every single charge. For hospital visits- did you really get all the medicines that you were billed for?

Understand that medical facilities often do have the ability to "write off" or "waive" portions of your balance. But, they're not going to volunteer that- you have to ASK!

Have you challenged a medical bill? Have you won??? So frustrating but so rewarding when you win!

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