Much appreciation goes out to the healthcare workers and their support staff for taking care of the ill and vulnerable. At the same time, we should be skeptical of bills we may be presented for that care.
The struggle to contain health-care costs in this country is now a fixture in the national policy debate. Our health-care expense does not lead to good results. The United States spends more on health care as a share of the economy – nearly twice as other developed nations – yet has the lowest life expectancy and the highest rates for suicide, chronic disease, and obesity. See:
Health Care Cost Example
If that expense has landed in the middle of your household budget, here are some home truths that may help you monitor what you’re being charged. In many cases, the bills are fair. But they may not be.
For example, in the case of coronavirus testing, many providers charge between zero and $200 – yet one Texas lab charged insurance companies as much as $2,315.
Or, a hospital may have charged you exorbitant fees for medication you could have obtained over the counter. A patient was billed $238 for eyedrops obtainable in a retail pharmacy for between $15 and $50. Sometimes the worst excesses are due to “surprise medical bills.” You can be treated in a hospital that is in your insurer’s network, but if the particular physician has rejected the insurer’s rates as too low, the physician will be treated as out-of-network, the costs can go through the roof, and your insurance company will refuse to pay.
If you are willing to put in the time and effort, it may be that you can negotiate to have your bills reduced. If the charges are big enough, it may be worthwhile to embark on an effort to get them reconsidered.
If you are dealing with medical bills for an individual who is deceased, the leverage to have these bills reduced increases significantly. We have helped numerous clients reduce bills following the death of a loved one during the process of administrating their trust or estate. Do not pay first and ask questions later or all of your leverage will be lost.
How to Explain or Reduce Health Care Bills
Health care reporter Sarah Kliff, formerly of Vox and now with the New York Times, has written a primer on how to proceed.
The steps she outlines are:
* Obtain an itemized bill. The first bill you receive may give you no idea of what the charges are for.
* It is common practice for emergency rooms to bill for simply walking in the door. Hospitals often use a point system depending on their assessment of the emergency, with higher fees for more complicated conditions. You may be able to challenge the assessment down to a lower grade.
* If the bill contains no errors or overcharges, you may be able to obtain a discount for paying promptly. Sarah Kliff advises persistence until you connect with a person who has authority to permit this.
For especially big bills or with post-death administration issues, please call us. We can assist in advocating for you. Please contact us today at 877-585-1885 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal matters.
Thanks for reading.
Christopher E. Botti, Esq., Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law