I just received a large bill for a recent hospital visit. How can I check whether it's accurate?

In today's complex world of medical billing, you may have difficulty understanding exactly which procedures you're being charged for, or what the billing codes on your hospital bill mean.

The first step in determining whether your bill is accurate is to know exactly what your insurance does and does not cover. Review your health plan's coverage brochure or contact your insurer to find out about your plan's coverage exclusions or limitations, expenses that are fully or partially covered by your plan, and the ramifications of using an out-of-network provider.

Another helpful tool is an explanation of benefits (EOB). The EOB will provide you with a variety of information, such as the dates and type of services provided, the amount that was billed by the medical provider to the insurance company, what the insurance company paid to the provider, and the amount that wasn't covered and for which you are responsible. Review your EOB and compare it to your medical bills. If you find any discrepancies, contact your medical provider's billing department.

Unfortunately, errors are a common occurrence in the medical billing industry. As a result, it's always important to request an itemized bill, as opposed to just a summary of charges, from a medical provider. An itemized bill is critical when it comes to identifying billing errors because it will detail each medical procedure for which you are being charged. Once you've received your itemized bill, check to make sure that all of your identifying information (e.g., address, date of birth), dates of service, and insurance information are correct. In addition, you'll want to check for common billing errors, such as charges for duplicate procedures or incorrectly coded procedures.

If you find an error on your bill, contact the billing department of the medical provider to request a corrected insurance claim and/or bill. Be prepared to explain the mistake to the billing representative and provide copies of billing records that illustrate the billing error.


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