Thursday, February 19, 2009

More about Medical Bills and the Insurance Morass

Following up to my rant/post yesterday I want to share two articles on dealing with the medical bill morass.

The first outlines some of the important techniques that can be successfully employed to help reduce out of pocket costs. It comes from a real life experience of a couple that tackled their spiraling costs. I have used a number of the techniques and it mostly works. Sometimes, like I said yesterday, it is random based on who is on the other end of the line. So, it always good to try and try again. 10 Ways to Cut your Medical Bills

Another article a couple of days ago addressed how a family member stepped up to help advocate for her brother. Negotiate Your Medical Bills And, through Htzpah, persistence, looking over an itemized bill for a hospital visit (that is enough to make anyone sick) -- Crimminy, up to $10 for a Tylenol pill. It is a sad state in this country that we have come to this.

In addition to some of the techniques identified I use the following:
  1. Always, Always, keep notes for each conversation. Write, the date, who you spoke to, what about, and followup action item. This is useful when some action agreed to does not happen (no matter who it is) you can leverage that they said that they would do x, y, and/or z. Lack of Followup is great leverage.
  2. When you review a bill, there are CPT codes associated with the charges, if the charge has been denied by your insurance company, find out why, then go back to the provider of services and see if they can legitimately change the CPT code (sometimes they can) and re-bill.  That has helped save me money in a number of circumstances. Each insurance company has slightly different policies and coding. I am beginning to see this as a new pattern.
If all this too much to do on one's own, or if, one doesn't have a family member, there are always professional advocates, who charge a fee, however, the reduction of stress of dealing with, let alone understanding, EOBs ( "Explanation of Benefits" for the luckily uninitiated), medical bills, insurance policies, and negotiating down the bills, may be worth the up to $80/hr fee some people pay. Benefit Advocates Help Reduce Fees.

Those are my hot insurance billing tips of the day. Good Luck and give a shout if you have further suggestions or need help.

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