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I have difficulty understanding my hospital bills. Are they usually accurate?

  • October 30, 2011

Q: I have difficulty understanding my hospital bills. Are they usually accurate?

A: Hospital bills are not only notoriously inaccurate, they’re written in code. According to the experts more than 90 percent of hospital bills contain errors and nearly 70 percent of those errors result in overpayments. A single error can cost you thousands of dollars. No wonder medical bills rank second among reasons for filing bankruptcy.

To find these mistakes, you should request three documents that the law says must be available to patients: an itemized bill, your medical chart and your pharmacy ledger. Compare the three and look for discrepancies.

Most hospitals have a patient-billing advocate or patient ombudsman who can help you resolve discrepancies on your bill. If you need further help, reach out to a private medical billing advocate who will comb through your bill and work to get the costs as low as possible. They’re paid an hourly rate, or a percentage of what they save you.

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