How Your Hospital Bills Get Paid

Your hospital bill:

Hospital bills and insurance coverage are often confusing. Most hospitals do not send an itemized bill when they bill you for the health care you have received. Your Patient Bill of Rights guarantees that your have the right to examine and receive a detailed explanation of your hospital bill. If you call the phone number on the bill and ask for an itemized bill, they will send you a bill that includes the price for every item that you were charged for. Review it carefully. If you don’t understand the bill, ask someone in the health profession to review it with you. Question charges that you don’t agree with. Demand they be taken off your bill. These deletions can turn into hundreds and even thousands of dollars worth of savings to you even if your have health insurance. Your health insurance will only cover 70-80% of your hospital bill, depending on the policy you have. That means you have to pay out-of-pocket for 20-30%. That might not sound like alot, but if your bill is $20,000, you will paying $4,000-$6,000 out-of-pocket towards that bill.

Who will help you:

The hospital staff will do whatever it can to help you pay your hospital bills either through your health insurance carrier, Medicare, Medicaid, or by helping you set up a payment plan. They will submit claims for you with health care insurers or other programs such as Medicare or Medicaid. They will also help your doctor with any necessary documentation needed for such payment. Don’t be afraid to ask the hospital to write off certain expenses. They have been known to do that for people depending on the circumstances. Lots of hospitals will automatically deduct 25% off the entire bill if you offer to pay it all at once. The point is…. ASK for help!

If you need help understanding your insurance coverage or health plan, start with your insurance company or health benefits manager at your place of employment. If you do not have health coverage, the hospital will try to help you and your family find financial help or make other arrangements to help you pay for your care. Your assistance in providing essential information will be extremely helpful in order to help you get your bills paid.

Your Patient Bill of Rights also states that you have the right to full information and counseling on the availability of known financial resources for your health care. Most public hospitals will provide care to all patients regardless of their ability to pay. Many hospitals provide an automatic discount to all uninsured patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Some may also provide 100 percent write-off on current medical bills for patients whose household income is less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline. In 2009, that Federal poverty income was just under $11,000 for a family of one. For patients who do not qualify for a full 100 percent write-off on their bill, the hospital’s financial counselors can help determine potential opportunities for partial assistance with catastrophic medical bills. The bottom line is that you must address your hospital bills. They cannot be ignored. They will not go away on their own. Work with your hospital to get them paid. Many hospitals will accept low monthly payments if you stand firm that that is all you can afford to pay. In many states, they cannot take your home if you default on the payments, but they can put a lien on it. Defaulting on bills will damage your credit. Be patient. Be cooperative. Be proactive. Consider your hospital as a friend, not the enemy.

Access to Emergency Care

In 1986, Congress passed legislation ensuring that all members of the public have access to emergency treatment regardless of ability to pay.

Anecdotes:

I was in the hospital for 3 days after having a total abdominal hysterectomy. When I received my bill from the hospital, I called the phone number on the bill and requested that they send me an itemized bill so that I would know what the charges were. Being a Registered Nurse (RN), I knew what all the listed items were. I immediately saw several items that I was charged for by mistake. For instance, I was charged for 3 days worth of Intravenous (IV) fluids, when I only had an IV for 12 hours. I was charged for 3 days worth of a mechanical device to prevent blood clots in my legs when I only used it for 12 hours. There were several other items that I was charged for that I did not receive. I called the same telephone number on the bill and refuted the charges. The charges were deleted from the bill with a savings of over $600! Even though I had great health insurance that was going to pay 80% of the bill, I still had to absorb the other 20%. By knocking $600 off the bill, I saved $120 in out of pocket expenses. That’s alot of money!

My elderly father lived in another state. After he passed away, I was dealing with his estate. There were several bills from a hospitalization that needed to get paid. I called the business office at the hospital and told them that my father had died. I asked them if they would consider writing off the bills. They agreed to do that! You have a voice…use it!

” What Insurance Won’t Pick Up ” – 4:10 minutes

” Negotiating Hospital Bills ” – 3:12 minutes

” Truth About Hospital Bills ” – 2:34 minutes

” Medical Bill mistakes ” – 1:04 minutes

” Unfair Medical Billing ” – 2:30 minutes

 

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