1. Call the doctor’s office
If you do not understand what you are billing for, ask the doctor’s office. Although we rely heavily upon computers and information technology, we cannot take for granted the information we are being given is correct. Not only do people make mistakes, in this day and age in the ever changing world of health care, but computers do too. For that very reason, it does not hurt to call the doctor’s office and go over statement to be certain the amount due, in fact, your responsibility.
2. Call the insurance company.
Remember, you are a subscriber to your insurance plan and are entitled to a detailed explanation on how your visit was processed. There is a Member Services telephone number printed on the back of your insurance card. Don’t be afraid to use it and interrogate the insurance company like a parent wanting to know where their child had been because of broken curfew. Compare notes with the representative to the statement in hand for inconsistencies. * If there is an inconsistency, ask the representative to conference call you in with the doctor’s office to insure you are all on the same page.
3. Take Notes
Jot down the names of everyone you spoke with and ask for a reference number for the phone call. It is not unusual for a medical claim to come back to haunt you after having been reassured things were resolved. Computers and people make mistakes. If you come across another statement you have all your references together to them where to go…. To speak with whomever it concerns, of course.
4. Ask Questions about that particular service
Often you may end up having to pick up the tab for certain services that aren’t considered part of a doctor’s office visit. For example, when a patient sees the doctor and the doctor runs a necessary diagnostic test every time a patient comes to monitor their health, this might generate additional copayments or a deductible charge weeks after a patient was seen. IF you happen to be a frequent flyer type of patient, it wouldn’t hurt to look over that portion of what you may be held responsible for down the road.
5. Make a payment plan
If you’re like me, and are not part of the 1%, you can get taken aback at the cost of your stint in the hospital, MRI Center, blood lab, etc. To avoid collections and all other nightmares that follow, request a payment plan. A small percentage monthly beats 100% of nothing and all providers dig that. If you’re on a fixed income, apply for hardship and they will certainly work with you. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.