Nine out of 10 hospital bills have errors on them,
most of which are in the hospital’s favor. Bills from
doctor’s offices and labs have mistakes too, but they
tend to be fewer and further apart.
To help you get a handle on your medical bills and
check for costly errors, the first thing you need to do
is request an itemized statement from the hospital or
health care providers detailing the charges of the
procedures, supplies, tests and services they provided
you. They are legally required to provide you with
If the statement contains confusing billing codes or
abbreviations that you do not understand, call the
billing office for an explanation. You can also look
up most medical billing codes online by going to any
online search engine and typing in “CPT” followed
by the code number.
Once you receive and decode the statement,
review it carefully and keep your eyes peeled for
- Double billing: Being charged twice for the same
services, drugs, or supplies.
- Typos: Incorrect billing codes or dollar amounts.
- Canceled work: Charging for a test your doctor
ordered, then canceled.
- Phantom services: Being charged for services,
test or treatments that were never received.
- Up-coding: Inflated charges for medications and
- Incorrect length of stay: Most hospitals will charge
for the admission day, but not for day of discharge.
Be sure you’re not paying for both.
- Incorrect room charges: Being charged for a private
room, even if you stayed in a semi-private room.
- Inflated operating room fees: Being billed for more
time than was actually used.
- Compare the charge with your anesthesiologist’s
To make sure the charges on your bill are reasonably
priced, use Healthcare Bluebook ~
This is a free resource that lets you look up the going rate
of healthcare costs in your area.
If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, a resource that may
help is your State Health Insurance Assistance Program
(SHIP). They provide free personalized counseling and
may be able to help you get a handle on your medical
bills and Medicare coverage.
State Health Insurance Assistance Programs
One-On-One Medicare Counseling And Assistance
If you find errors or have questions about charges,
contact your provider’s billing office and your insurer.
If they do not help you and the discrepancies are
significant, you should consider getting help from a
trained professional who specializes in analyzing
medical bills and negotiates with health care providers,
insurers and even collection agencies.
Most medical bill reviewing professionals charge an
hourly fee, somewhere between $50 and $200 per hour,
for their services, or they may work on a contingency
basis, earning a commission of 25 percent to 35 percent
of the amount they save you. You can find medical bill
reviewing professionals by doing an Internet search
under “hospital bill review”.