Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 7, 2007 / 18 Shevat, 5767

Treasure might be buried in medical bills

By Vicki Lee Parker


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) In need of extra cash? Try checking your medical bills. Complaints about medical bills are as common as complaints about doctors' handwriting. In a 2003 Consumer Reports survey of 11,000 people, 5 percent said they had found major errors on their hospital bills. Those with more than $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses were twice as likely to find errors.

In the few years since that survey, little has changed.

One of the biggest problems is that there are no price guidelines. Doctors negotiate different rates with different insurance carriers, so you could easily be charged one amount for a procedure one year, and a different amount if you switch insurance carriers.

The system is a breeding ground for billing errors. And many of these errors go undetected.

"The biggest part of the problem is that people think the hospital or medical practice will take care of that," said Kenneth Hertz, senior consultant with the Medical Group Management Association in Colorado. "If the contract exists between the consumer and the insurance company, it's really (the consumer's) ... responsibility to make sure the bill is correct."

So how do you catch an error?

Start by reviewing the explanation of benefits statement from your insurance company, said Jennifer McLaurin, a health insurance broker with John Sipp & Associates in Chapel Hill, N.C. "You need it to keep track of your charges."

The statement includes the date of your doctor's visit, which services you had, how much you were charged, the negotiated rate or allowed amount and the amount for which you are responsible.

If the statement from the doctor's office doesn't match this information, find out why.

Also double-check:

  • The date. Make sure it matches the day you saw the doctor. Some people have complained about being charged for treatments after they cancel or miss an appointment.

  • The patient's name. You could be charged for a treatment given to a patient whose name is similar to yours.

  • Your insurance coverage. Before you go to the doctor, know what your health insurance will pay for and what will be your financial responsibility.

    If you are planning to have elective surgery, ask your doctor's office to call your insurer to find out what is covered.

  • Compare the tests and treatments you are billed for against those that were done. Keep your own list, especially if you are going to be in the hospital overnight. If you're unable to do this, ask a family member or friend to keep a daily record of your treatments.

    If your bill seems unusually high, request a copy of your medical records to see which treatments your doctor ordered. Here are some common billing errors that those records can help you spot:

  • Incorrect basic charges: A hospital charges $3,000 for a visit that typically costs $2,000. Your explanation of benefits can help you spot such an error. Look at what's allowed; if there's a big discrepancy, ask if the billed price is correct.

  • Upcoding: The doctor's note shows that he switched your medication from an expensive to a generic one, but you are charged for both.

  • Unbundled or double charges: The hospital charges for tests and blood work that is included in the cost of a procedure. Again, the explanation of benefits statement can help with this.

  • Keystroke slip: You are charged for 22 units of blood instead of two.

  • Canceled work: An expensive procedure was canceled, but you are still charged.

  • Operating-room time: You're charged for 3.5 hours in the operating room, when the anesthesiologist's record shows that the surgery took only 2.5 hours.

Also, be on the lookout for fraudulent charges and signs of identity theft.

The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimates that $60 billion, or 3 percent, of health-care payments are lost to outright fraud.

It sounds like a lot to keep track of, but you don't have to pull your hair out trying to monitor medical records.

McLaurin, the health insurance broker, recommends that you sort medical bills and information into folders, one for each family member. She suggests reviewing the bills at least once a year. If you find an error, contact your doctor's office and the insurance company immediately. You have 18 months from the date of service to dispute charges.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Vicki Lee Parker is a columnist for The News & Observer. Comment by clicking here.

Previously:

Tax-time saving tip: Free filing is available
College money is waiting; don't procrastinate
Extended warranties rarely worthwhile
Too busy for tax planning? It'll cost you


© 2007, The News & Observer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles