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Friday, August 15, 2008
Getting rid of medical debt
The Wall Street Journal article discusses some of the ways to get rid of medical debt.

Among the recommendations are:

- Check for errors on their medical bills.
One of the most common problems is duplicate billing of services under different descriptions. "An operating room charge already includes routine services, equipment and supplies," says Johnson. "But then I look at the bill and I will see [the same] routine supplies billed out again."
- Stay on top of the insurance company
Many people don't realize that if there is a dispute between a doctor and a health plan, the physician will eventually just bill the patient. To avoid taking the hit, find out if any bills aren't getting paid and what the issue is, such as wrong billing code, and try to get it resolved as quickly as possible.
- Negotiate with doctors/hospitals on charges, especially if paying out-of-pocket.

- Ask for help from hospitals as they may have programs which provide financial assistance.
Some of these programs offer help to patients suffering from specific diseases, such as cancer, while others provide aid based on where a person lives.
- Ask for a payment plan to protect your credit from being ruined for not paying your medical debt

- Deal with collections agencies in case a patients account was sent to collections by mistake

Personally, I have encountered errors on my bills several times. In each case, the doctor/hospital used the wrong billing code and after a few days, the insurance company will send me the statement that the procedure is not covered and I need to pay for it. In the past, I would either not notice it or believed that everything was correct, and would end up paying the bill myself. However, more recently, if a procedure isn't paid, I always phone the insurance company to find out details for rejection. So far, in each case, I found that the doctor/hospital had used a wrong billing code which resulted in the rejection of the bill.

I just had to call my doctor/hospital again and asked them to resubmit it with the correct codes and in each case, the insurance company ending up paying for it. So now have realized that it pays to read the insurance statements carefully.

For details, see:

WSJ.com: Digging Out of Medical Debt
posted by Ruby @ 8:12 AM  
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