News 2 I-Team: Fighting medical bill errors

Patient advocates warn four out of five medical bills contain errors that could be driving up how much you’re charged when you see the doctor.

“Be observant and take the time to look through the paperwork,” Health insurance expert, Shelli Quenga, advised.

It's an extra task that could save you money.

 

Start with understanding the lingo

To fight back against billing errors, Christine Conzett, Director of Patient Financial Services at MUSC, says patients should be informed about their coverage before an appoint.

“Make sure you understand what your deductible is,” she advised. “Understand your max out-of-pocket. Understand if that facility is in network or out of network.”

Once the bills for your medical care start rolling in, patient advocates say 80 percent of them contain errors.

The most common errors include:

-wrong insurance or patient information

-duplicate charges for the same service

-bills for cancelled treatments

-incorrect quantities of medication

-balanced billing- where the provider tries to collect more than they agreed to with your insurance company.

 

Where to start

Once you spot an error, call your provider.

“Many things can be resolved just by calling the provider,” Quenga explained. “you can usually find there's been a simple error.”

Conzett says next check with your insurance.

“Sometimes the insurance provider may want more information, and we're able to help provide some of that,” she explained.

MUSC has a team dedicated to helping patients work through discrepancies on bills.

 

Helpful options

If those steps don't work, the Department of Consumer Affairs can often help.

Through a Freedom of Information request,  the I-Team found 146 complaints to the Department last year against hospitals and doctors officers across the state.  Most of the complaints were about billing issues and costs.

Filing a complaint with the Department can be done online. Resolution generally takes 20 to 25 days. Last year the Department saved patients $181,554 in credits, refunds, and adjustments.

Finally, you can also hire a third-party patient advocate.  Generally they will charge you a percentage of what they save you on the bills.

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