CLEVELAND - When a medical bill arrives in the mail, it may be difficult and time consuming to decipher the charges. However, you should take time to figure out what you're paying for, according to Pat Willis, a Cleveland-area patient advocate for the Medical Billing Advocates of America.
Willis said patients pay too much "way too often." Willis recommended scrutinizing every medical bill like it is a shopping receipt. She said to make sure there are no duplicate charges, overcharges or fees for services you did not receive.
If something doesn't seem right, Willis said you should request a more detailed version of the charges.
"You have to get the itemized bill itemized," she said.
If you discover an error on a medical bill, be prepared to take time to get it fixed, said Willis. "You just have to be persistent," she said.
Even with her expertise, Willis said she often has to speak to several hospital or insurance company employees before she can get results for her patients, like one who was fighting a $3,000 medical bill.
"After I was done. . . it was like $9," she said.
To avoid medical billing errors, Willis said you should have a family member, friend or advocate accompany you during a hospital stay or lengthy medical procedure. She said that person can make sure you are getting the services you need and document any potential problems.
Willis also said you can cut down on the cost you do owe by shopping around for the best price. She said different hospitals charge different prices for the same medical procedures.
Click on the video player above to watch an interview with a woman who owes $30,000 due to a medical billing mistake.
Medical billing mistakes are incredibly common, according to Willis. NewsChannel5 investigators have been looking into the issue and have found major medical billing mistakes being made in northeast Ohio. The story airs at 11 p.m. Thursday night on NewsChannel5.
Have you had to deal with a medical error on your bill? NewsChannel5's investigators want to hear about it. Click on this link to be part of our continuing investigation into medical bill mistakes: http://on.wews.com/KnJyUq
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