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The causes behind medical billing errors (2 of 2)

Welcome back. As we began discussing in the last post, hundreds of people may come into contact with your medical bill before, during and after your hospital stay. Because hospital bills are usually complicated and filled with medical terms, it can be hard to determine if mistakes have been made.

In order to prevent being over-charged for your medical care, it’s important to understand how mistakes can occur throughout the billing process, a recent article from Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer explained. Here is an overview of the final three billing stages and what can go wrong.

3. The inpatient phase.  There are many people involved during this phase as nurses, doctors and hospital staff change shifts. That means there are plenty of opportunities for inaccuracies. For example, the wrong medication dosage or even type of hospital room could impact the bill.

4. The billing phase.  After you have been discharged, the hospital’s clerical staff is in charge of translating the care you received into billing codes. If the wrong codes are selected for the treatment, it could cause costly mistakes. And the coding mistakes could come from something as simple as a typographical error.

5. You finally receive the bill.  This is the phase that usually leaves patients shocked. Maybe insurance didn’t cover what you expected it to, or maybe you received treatment or medication you were aware of. Something as simple as failing to submit a form can cause your insurance company to reject the claim.

Ultimately, The Plain Dealer said what is clear is that your hospital bill is not set in stone. It’s important to look over the bill as closely as you can to determine if mistakes were made. If there are errors you can spot or you simply cannot afford to pay your bill, contact the hospital right away and ask for the business office.

Source:  The Plain Dealer “Medical Billing Errors: What can go wrong? What can you do?,” June 24, 2012