Advertising
Advertising

How to Make Sense of Your Medical Bills in 5 Steps

How to Make Sense of Your Medical Bills in 5 Steps

According to a U.S. News and World Report article, about eight in 10 medical bills contain some sort of error. That’s crazy high, which also makes it pretty scary, especially since every error on your medical bill results in you dishing out more dough.

With unfamiliar medical codes and terms, however, it’s difficult for you to know exactly what you’re paying for. But, you’re not only the patient, you are also the customer. Therefore, you have the right to scrutinize every medical bill that you receive and demand an explanation on any charge that looks unfamiliar, too high, or downright suspicious.

In this article, we will give you an overview on what to look for on your bill(s) and who to call if you have issues regarding anything. Get out your highlighter and get ready to mark anything that you have a question about. Keep a notebook handy to write down your questions and notes.

Advertising

The Basics

When you begin your medical bill breakdown, it’s best if you begin with what you know: your name, address, insurance information, and admittance and discharge dates.[1] If your insurance information is incorrectly inputted, then you will, for sure, be charged more than you should.

Units

If you are given Tylenol in the hospital to help with your pain, you better believe that you will be charged per capsule. These per-item charges can be found under the “Units” section on your bill.[2] If you are being charged for 500 capsules of Tylenol, then highlight this as an item. There’s no way you took that many capsules during your stay. Double check the number of units per line item to make sure you are not being overcharged for items used during your stay.

Medical Codes

Hospitals and doctor’s offices use codes to identify services rendered.[3] You are charged based on the codes assigned. There are many different types of codes, but Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Codes and International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes are the most well-known.[4]

Advertising

CPT codes are ubiquitous in every U.S. doctor’s office and hospital. These are usually listed as service charges. ICD codes accompany CPT codes to assure that the diagnoses fit the billed procedure, prescription, etc.

We’re not saying that you should complete medical billing and coding training online, but you do have the right to contact the billing office of your healthcare provider and have every single code explained to you. Don’t be embarrassed, you’re not the only one requesting this service.

Service Description

Read. Every. Single. Thing. Yes, the service description section should be plentifully packed with each service and item you are being charged for, even for something like Basic Life Support (BLS). In this section, there will be a lot of abbreviations. If you don’t own a medical dictionary, then we suggest using good ole Google.

Advertising

Once you have made sense of the abbreviations, get out that highlighter and pad of paper and jot down anything that you don’t remember receiving, or any charges that seem bogus.

Charges

There may come a time where you receive a medical bill with just a summary of charges and the amount owed.[5] This is unacceptable and you need to call into your doctor’s office or the hospital billing department and request a full itemized bill, complete with all codes, units, service descriptions, and individual charges. Once you receive an itemized bill, you should go down the list and look at all of the charges. If some of the charges seem too high, highlight them.

Never ever think that if your hospital or doctor bill says that it is, then it must be so. Remember, it doesn’t matter if your bill is 10 pages long (heaven forbid) — you need to go through each page, line by line, highlighter in hand, and check that everything is correct. You will pay for any error that you don’t catch. So, it’s up to you to be vigilant.

Advertising

If you have any questions at all, make sure that you contact the health provider who sent you the bill. You can also contact your insurance company as well. They will be able to help with medical coding, as well as help you understand your patient pay portion of the bill.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

[1]https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/how-to-read-your-medical-bill/
[2]http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/health-insurance-guide/understanding-medical-bills/
[3]http://vitals.lifehacker.com/how-to-navigate-the-confusing-and-expensive-world-of-me-1765507579
[4]http://www.aarp.org/health/health-care-reform/info-03-2011/how_to_read_your_medical_bill_cpt_codes.html
[5]http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/07/15/infographic-how-to-read-your-hospital-bill

More by this author

smartphone apps 15 Apps Everyone Should Have In the Phone How to Make Sense of Your Medical Bills in 5 Steps 6 Career Opportunities that Don’t Require a College Degree 4 Ways Hospitals Can Attract and Retain Talent in a Competitive Industry How Millennials Are Doing College Wrong

Trending in Money

130 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much 230 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much 335 Real Ways to Actually Make Money Online 4How to Make Money with a Blog (According to 23 Successful Bloggers) 5This List of 50 Low-cost Hobbies Will Excite You

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 20, 2018

30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

Spending time with friends is, in and of itself, a great way to pass the time without spending a lot of money. But if you and your friends are used to going out to clubs, pubs or eateries together as your way of hanging out, then you can change it up a bit and save some money too.

No matter where you live, there are plenty of places to go and do fun things that don’t cost a lot.

If you are having trouble convincing your friends to do things on the cheap, then be upfront with them. Tell them straight out that you can’t spend that kind of money right now — and don’t let them pay for you either. But here are some great alternatives you can offer.

30 Fun Things To Do With Friends Without Spending Much

1. A potluck dinner party. Host a dinner party and ask everyone to bring a dish to share. If you are not comfortable with cooking, maybe try and learn how to cook a new dish together with your friends.

2. Host a spa day. Give each other manicures. Try out new hairstyles. Make some facial masks or exfoliates using natural, at-home ingredients. Then drink mimosas.

3. Movie marathon. Log into Netflix and watch every episode of “Stranger Things” Or do an ’80s movie marathon, watching “Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club” and all of our old favorites. Don’t have a Netflix membership? Get the free trial just for the marathon!

4. Pinterest party! You know all of those cool Pinterest crafts you say you’re going to do? Do them. At home one night with friends. Then make up some of those bacon-wrapped whatevers you’ve been dying to try!

5. Go to the park. Pack a picnic. Hang out. Watch people. Play on the swings.

Advertising

    6. Have an organization party. Set up a day of each weekend where you go to each of your friends’ houses and help them clean out a closet, a room, a garage, whatever. Serve drinks and food and trade stuff among yourselves.

    7. Hold a yard sale. After all of that cleaning, why not hang out together and make some extra cash too?

    8. Concerts in the park. All summer long, many parks host free concerts. Go with your friends. Hang out, bring a picnic dinner. This is a very relaxing way to chill out on a hot summer night after work.

    9. Volunteer together. Offer to do the yard work for the local senior center or hang out with the kids at the YMCA. After a few hours of volunteering together, you will have new respect for each other and something new to chat about.

    10. Play board games. Drag out the Scrabble or the Yahtzee. You can hang out and play all sorts of games with large groups or small ones. Hold a tournament and compete against each other. Here’re some board games ideas.

    11. Video game tournament. Not into board games? OK. Well, how about a video game tournament? Whether it’s the latest dancing game or “Call of Duty,” play against each other and award prizes (or food) to the winners.

    12. Grab a ball and a bat and go play baseball at the local park. Grab a basketball or a tennis racket. Most parks have courts and fields you can use for free as long as there isn’t an organized event going on.

    Advertising

    13. Go to the school play. This might cost a little for admission, but it’s a great way to support your community and have a fun time.

    14. Iron Chef night. Bring your friends over and have an Iron Chef night where you cook dinner out of only the items in your pantry. No buying anything!

    15. Go dumpster diving. Yup. I said it. Check out the dumpsters in your area and see what you can find. You might even find dinner! Here are some tips for respectful diving.

      16. Go to yard sales. Take all that money you made at your yard sale and cruise around your town together looking for cool stuff. Maybe you could even fix something up and resell it.

      17. Go fishing.

      18. Go camping.

      19. Find some cool trails around your town and go hiking. Here’re some of the best hiking trails you should try.

      Advertising

      20. Get out the bikes and bike everywhere for a weekend.

        21. Dig out the old croquet set — or borrow your Mom’s — and play croquet. Do it! Totally fun.

        22. Swap movies and music. Have everyone bring over a box of old movies and CDs they don’t want anymore — or don’t watch anymore. Then swap with abandon.

        23. Go on a walking tour of your town. Most towns or cities have a historic district. Find out if there is a walking tour available. If not, make one up!

        24. Scavenger hunt. Put your friends to the test — yes, this is for grown-ups — to find different things in your city…like a certain bike rack, a vintage sign, that sort of thing. The winner gets a dinner cooked by the losers.

        25. Find out when the free days are at your local museum or zoo. Most have them and they can be great fun to visit with friends.

        26. Hold a quilting bee. No, you don’t have to be fancy — or old — for this. Grab some old T-shirts that you love, old jeans, whatever. Cut them into squares and sew them together. Who knows? Maybe it will become a regular thing?

        Advertising

        27. Go to Open Mic night. Your town is likely harboring some great talent at an open mic night that has no cover and cheap drinks!

        28. Go to a religious service. Even if you’re not religious, going to a service in an unfamiliar religion can be enlightening and a great way to meet new people.

        29. Find a swimming hole. Head to the old town swimming hole — or find a new one. What a great way to spend a lazy afternoon with friends.

          30. Start a book club, card club (canasta anyone?), sewing club or scrapbooking club. Something you and your friends like. My parents used to belong to a cooking club where once a month all of their friends gathered at one house and the host family cooked a meal from a different country. I learned a lot about food that year.

          You don’t really need to spend much to have lots of fun with your friends! Pick a few of these ideas and start trying them out this weekend with your friends!

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Read Next