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How To Review A Hospital Bill And What To Do If You Find An Error


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All hospital bills should be reviewed - even if an insurance companyis going to pay for all or most of it. 

Every study the author has seen indicates a high percentage of hospital bills have errors in them -- high beiing more than half of the bills. It's not difficult to understand why. Hospital bills tend to be long and complex.A bill for a five-day hospitalization can include at least 10 pages of single spaced entries. Hospitals have thousands of numerical codes covering medical procedures, lab services, medications and other charges. Billing mistakes often occur when the numerical codes are confused.

As a patient you are entitled to an itemized bill.

An insurance company can spot some errors. But you are the best source of knowing what services you did (and did not) receive, by whom, and when.

  • Look for obvious errors, such as surgeries you didn't receive or days you weren't in the hospital.
  • Review the details of the bill. Keeping a log while you're in the hospital will make this process much easier.
  • If the bill is not understandable, ask the hospital for explanations.
  • If you need help reviewing the bill, there are professional services available -- some of which only charge a percentage of the money they save.

If you want help finding errors, consider working with a service such as CoPatient offsite link

If you find errors, work with the hospital and your insurer to correct them, or engage a service such as CoPatient to do the negotiating for you or speak with your lawyer if you have one..

Some insurers pay a reward if you find and report errors.

The U.S. General Accounting Office estimates that Americans overpay for healthcare by more than $10 billon a year.

For more information see:

If you want even more information about hospital bills, consider reading the following:

  • The Medical Bill Survival Guide, by Pat Palmer, Warner Books. This book is filled with informative and practical advice about interpreting and reviewing your hospital bill, and saving money in the process.   
  • Get Your Claim Paid, by James Walsh (Silver Lake Publishing)

NOTE: You can negotiate hospital bills. To learn how to negotiate a hospital bill, click here.

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