6 Simple Ways To Find And Eliminate Hidden Medical Charges
Anyone who has ever stayed in the hospital knows one thing: it’s not cheap. More expensive than a five star hotel, a hospital stay can leave you with a ridiculous bill. But, the charges are often unwarranted. From duplicate charges to clever wording to downright questionable practices, hospital bills are typically inflated.
But, this doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with the bill. Knowing what to look for can help you contest your bill and reduce unfair costs.
Before paying any portion of your hospital bill, consider the following:
Figure Out What the Bill is Actually Saying: Just as doctors often talk over the heads of their patients, hospital bills do as well. This is done for one reason: hospitals think if you can’t understand the bill, you can’t contest it. This is why dissecting the bill - wading through the scientific jargon and getting to the actual item you are paying for - is essential. If there is a charge you don’t understand on your bill, ask someone to explain it to you. Asking may just lead you to find that the $10 “Ear Irrigation” you are being charged is nothing more than a cotton swab.
Watch for the “As Needed” Items: Hospitals have a way of making a lot of money on “as needed” items. For example, if you are hooked up to a morphine drip and prescribed the drug on an “as needed” basis, you can pay an arm and a leg for that morphine, even if you never used it or used it sparingly. If anything on your bill appears “as needed” make sure it was something you really did use, and something that warrants the cost.
Don’t Pay Twice for the Same Thing: Hospitals are flat out professionals at duplicate charges: they will charge you twice or even three times for the exact same thing. Watch out for these charges. For example, if you are admitted to a hospital, you will be charged a room rate. Under this room rate things like blood draws or the administration of medicine should all be included. If your bill charges you for the room and charges you separately for these procedures, they are guilty of duplicate charges.
Watch for Transportation Charges: Another way hospitals charge you as much as possible is through transportation fees. If you have blood drawn, and that blood is taken off campus to be tested, you might find a transportation fee on your bill. But, you might also find one even if that blood was tested right inside the hospital. If your blood work is tested down the hall from your room, you shouldn’t pay an excessive transportation fee.
When In Doubt, Ask For Help: The most important thing to do when reviewing your hospital bill is to make sure it is justified. The best way to do this is to keep asking questions until you are satisfied. If your nurse or doctor can’t appease you, take your questions to the billing department, and finally, to the hospital administrator.
Remember You Are the Customer: When you are a patient in a hospital, it’s easy to forget that you are also a customer: you are paying them for the delivery of goods. Thus, the rules of customer service do apply. If you are unhappy or feel as if you are being ripped off, stand your ground. Remember, the customer is always right.
The last thing you may want to deal with when being discharged from a hospital is the bill. Still, avoiding it or not looking at it closely will probably leave you paying much more than you should: few hospitals charge you exactly what they should. So, review it and contest it: a hospital may have just saved your life, don’t let them nickel and dime you to death.