Understanding your medical billing

It is estimated that 50% to 80% of medical bills contain errors, whether from erroneous charges, incorrect coding, double billings or, in some cases, abusive charging practices. These mistakes can quickly go from

28467662 - assorted medical bills and a claim form with coins

.

human error to budget squashing. Casting a critical eye over your medical claims is one way to avoid paying more than you should because of billing mishaps, and step one is to keep your medical bills organized. At the end of the day, reconciliation of medical bills could help you save money and prevent fraud.

What to anticipate from your provider

The first step in staying organized is to know what types of documents are coming your way. After receiving care from your doctor or hospital, you should expect two important documents in the mail: the actual medical bill and the explanation of benefits, or EOB.

Managing your medical bills

You’ll receive a medical bill directly from your provider of care, be it a hospital, doctor, clinic, pharmacy, or laboratory. You may receive medical bills from multiple providers even though your treatment happened on the same day and in the same facility. If that’s the case, make sure that you aren’t charged twice for anything.

Tracking your EOB

Insurance carriers negotiate discounts with providers in exchange for sending plan members to the providers’ hospitals. The EOB serves as the document that explains this discount to you.  Don’t be confused by the wording. They are often calling this the disallowed amount.  This EOB shows the amount you owe. If your provider didn’t send you an itemized statement, it would be wise to request one, as this will help you compare your EOB to each medical bill you receive. This, in turn, will make it much easier to spot billing mistakes. An EOB may include more than one medical bill and vice versa. If that’s the case, carefully compare it to each individual bill to ensure that all of the expenses add up. The amount you owe should match between the EOB and the provider bill.

Staying on top

As well as keeping your medical bills and EOBs organized, there are several other things you can do to stay on top of your medical expenses. For one, you might want to create a calendar showing all your medical appointments, featuring notes with the name of the provider and the type of care provided. That way, you’ll know when and from whom you should be expecting bills and EOBs.

It also makes sense to organize your medical bills and EOBs by the date you received care, rather than the date you received the bill. Don’t forget to write down the dates you paid each bill. Although a pen and paper should suffice when completing these tasks, there are apps out there that can help you stay organized.