Dear Savvy Senior,
What tips do you recommend to Medicare beneficiaries dealing with hefty medical bills? My husband recently had open heart surgery and is recovering slowly, but the medical bills are coming in fast and furious and they’re putting us in medical debt.
Struggling in Springfield
I’m sorry to hear about your billing struggles, but medical debt has unfortunately become a chronic problem in this country. According to
To help you slash your medical bills, here are some tips recommended by health care experts that you should try.
Double check your bills: Almost half of all medical bills contain at least one error, including duplicate charges or charges for services you never received. If you’re facing a high bill and are on the hook for some portion of it, request itemized invoices from the hospital and other providers that detail everything you were charged for and go through them line by line. If you find something you don’t understand or find fishy contact the provider for an explanation or a correction.
Wait for your EOB: Doctors’ offices and hospitals may mail initial bills to you before they even submit them to your health insurer. So, hold off on any payment until you receive an explanation of benefits (EOB) from your provider – Medicare, supplemental Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or private insurer. This will show what you owe after your insurance has paid its portion.
If your EOB shows that your insurer is refusing to pay for services that you think should be covered, call them to see whether it’s a correctable mistake, such as a coding error for a certain test or treatment. If it’s truly a denial of coverage, you may need to file an appeal. For details on how to file a Medicare appeal, see Medicare.gov/claims-appeals/how-do-i-file-an-appeal.
Ask for a discount: Call the hospital’s accounting office or the billing staff at your doctor’s practice and ask if they can reduce your bill. You’d be surprised how often this works. Or if you have the funds to pay the entire bill, ask the hospital or provider for a “prompt pay” discount which may save you 15 percent or more.
If it’s best for you to pay your bills over time, ask the billing office to set up a no-interest payment plan for you. It’s in the provider’s interest to work with you to obtain payment.
You can also call the hospital where your husband had his surgery and ask a billing specialist if the facility offers financial assistance. According to the
Get help: If you’ve gotten nowhere on your own, contact the
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443,
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Savvy Senior: Tips on reducing your medical bills – Insurance News Net
Dear Savvy Senior,