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How to Read Your Medical Bills

Medical bills can seem very complicated and overwhelming. They’re low on details and full of technical jargon so you never quite know what you’re looking at.

But with so much of your finances at stake, whether in your bank account or your credit score with missed payments, it’s important to know how to read your medical bills. We’ll take a look at the common medical codes on medical bills, some mistakes these bills may contain, and how to fix them.

How Are Medical Bills Set Up?

After your visit to their offices, most hospitals and doctors will send you a summary of your medical charges. Usually, this summary is quite brief, and it won’t contain many details about what exactly you’re being charged for.

If you want a more comprehensive breakdown of your bill, you must request an itemized bill as that document will include lines for every service and supply you received along with the dollar amount for each.

Important Codes on Your Bills

There are over 150,000 medical billing codes used today, so it can be an incredible feat to recognize and understand them all so that you can identify possible errors. Let’s take a look at some of the most common key codes to get a better grasp on how they function.

HCPCS Level I Codes, or CPT codes, are the service codes listed on your bills. They’re used across the United States and consist of five digits that relate to different procedures and tests.

HCPCS Level II Codes are also referred to as service codes, but they typically start with a letter, not a number. These code types refer to any supplies or products used on you during your appointment.

ICD-10 Codes relate to diagnoses. In the U.S., these numbers always have a linked CPT code to make sure the treatment a patient is receiving matches the diagnoses they were given.

Revenue Codes are facility-specific codes that show the dollar amounts for specific procedures.

Common Mistakes on Medical Bills

Unfortunately, mistakes can be a common occurrence on medical bills, and they may end up costing you more money out of pocket if they go unnoticed. Here are the most common mistakes that can be found on your medical bill:

Coding Errors occur when the wrong name or term is used in conjunction with your account. For example, a sprain being recorded as a break, or a more expensive medicine brand being charged than the one you were given.

Duplicate Charges can occur when you’re charged multiple times for the same service or when the individual inputting your data records incorrect amounts of medicine or supplies on your bill.

Unreceived Treatments may be charged when the doctor recommends a treatment that you either choose not to receive or that your physician later retracts.

Incorrect Times may cause your bill to increase if misrecorded because surgery rooms charge by the minute.

Wrong Room Fees can happen when an individual in a hospital has a shared room, but they are recorded as being in a private room, or if the number of days stayed in the hospital is misrecorded.

How to Check Your Bill

When you first receive your bill in the mail, always make sure to check that the information on it is correct to the best of your ability. This will be more obvious information like your name, address, insurance information, and treatment dates. Then, cross-reference the remaining bill information with your EOB (Explanation of Benefits) to see that it matches. If you have an itemized bill, check to ensure everything sounds right in relation to the care you received. Finally, review the codes on your bill to make sure they relate to the correct treatments you received.

Resolving a Mistake

If you find a mistake during your review, the first thing you need to do is call your doctor or hospital and make them aware of the situation. It may be a simple solution, but because of the nature of medical administration, it may take several phone calls to resolve your issue.

Negotiating Your Bill

Something not many individuals know is that your medical bill is always negotiable. If you are unable to pay in full, need a discounted lump-sum settlement, or even a payment plan, you can always discuss your bill with your provider. Often, when this process is undergone, the bill will be reduced to a fair but manageable price.

Most bills have a three to six-month repayment period to assist individuals in spreading out the costs over a longer time if needs be.

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At Beckham Insurance Group, our knowledgeable and experienced employee benefits representatives are here to help make your benefits administration as easy and stress-free as possible. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you build a competitive and comprehensive benefits program.

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