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How Health Advocates Can Save Money for Their Clients
Over the past few years, increasingly, I hear from patients who (usually after hospitalization) feel that they have been unfairly billed for medical services.They contact me because they find an article or two I’ve written at my Patient Empowerment site at About.com about medical billing and insurance. When I say increasingly, I mean – since the first of this year the numbers have really spiked. I mean, really spiked. As if the medical billing universe has decided that no one should get a correct bill anymore, and everyone should be required to pay for something they didn’t think they should pay for. Now – I don’t have the ability to help people get their bills corrected when there really are mistakes. I leave that to the professionals (and yes, of course, I refer almost all those folks who contact me to engage with a billing specialist listed at AdvoConnection.) However, there are a few general troubleshooting ideas I have for them, like: Since insurers seem to change their in-network list of providers on a whim, you must always check to be sure the doctor you’re about to see is still considered in-network (even if he or she has always been in-network before.) Likewise with insurance formularies – co-pays, in particular for newly developed drugs, seem to change overnight. Many Tier 3 drugs are now Tier 4 (which, to me, means, let’s just throw out a huge number and charge the patient!) and patients are blindsided by the increased cost. Yes, it’s possible your insurance covers most of your hospital stay, but that the anesthesiologist does not accept your insurance – you’ll have to negotiate payment with those who don’t accept your insurance. The Affordable Care Act (healthcare reform) does have a list of preventive tests you no longer pay co-pays for, but that doesn’t mean the doctor won’t recommend a test or a drug that will not be covered as “free.” You need to check the list. Balance billing is illegal in most states, yet it happens every day. If you think you have been balance billed, then use that…