The next time you’re feeling under the weather and head to the hospital, make sure you know exactly what treatments you’re paying for — it could end up saving you a hefty sum.
Hospital stays have become increasingly expensive in recent years. In fact, they’re so expensive that one quarter of American families struggled to pay medical bills in 2012, and 10% were unable to pay them at all, according to a CDCP survey covered in U.S. News & World Report.
What’s most shocking is that many of these costs are likely unjustified, as billing errors have become alarmingly common. According to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, 80% of hospital bills contain at least one mistake.
The best way to keep your hospital visit affordable is to familiarize yourself with the language of the medical billing system so that you can sniff out any hidden or erroneous fees. These fees come in all shapes and sizes, and knowing what to look for on your own bill is key when it comes to assuring affordable care.
When you see two or more doctors over the course of your stay, those doctors sometimes diagnose and bill you for the exact same service — as if you went into surgery twice. The aptly named “double billing” can predictably double the size of your bill, so make sure to check that the same service or procedure doesn’t appear twice on your receipt.
Getting Charged for Medical Supplies
Patients should not be charged for commonplace or inexpensive supplies. So if you’re being asked to pay for things like latex gloves and tongue depressors, you’ve got a right to be suspicious. These items should already be included in the charge you receive for your overall service, as hospitals can’t turn to patients to cover the cost of their most basic supplies.
Hospitals will sometimes bill you for more time than you actually spent in your bed or in the operating room. Make sure you’re not paying extra money for those hours you spent filling out forms before getting discharged from the hospital.
Patients should never foot the bill for the mistakes of a licensed practitioner. For example, if an x-ray wasn’t executed correctly and had to be redone, that’s the hospital’s fault, not your own — and there’s no way you should be paying for two x-rays!
Lastly, patients are often charged for unnecessary, premium products, so get familiar with the “normal” costs associated with a given service to cut down on your next bill. There are a few websites out there that allow you to compare the rates different hospitals in your area offer to conduct similar procedures.
Just doing some quick research on the web will give you a clear understanding of what you should be paying, and Clear Health Costs, FAIR Health, and Healthcare Blue Book all offer good starting points.
If four out of every five medical bills contain an error, then it might be worth triple-checking your next bill for any of these hidden fees. But for regular visits to the doctor, SingleCare provides the rate in advance and offers a simple pay-as-you-go system, both designed to eliminate any and all surprises from your bill.
SingleCare assures savings and price transparency, making your next trip to the doctor’s a lot less painful — financially and emotionally.
(Main image credit: Phalinn Ooi/flickr)