It Pays to Scrutinize, and Sometimes Challenge, Medical Bills

Complaining about unexpectedly high bills can be a good strategy to get them reduced, but medical expenses are often a special case, because the networks of providers and insurers are powerful, and the system can be baffling, which makes it harder to determine if you’ve been wronged.

But, with some determination and a polite refusal to be intimidated, appropriate challenges can be successful.

David Slade tells his story:

My teenage son got a flu shot, in 2016, at one of the doc-in-a-box places in suburban Charleston. Last month, a bill shows up from a third-party billing company, listing five different charges — from a visit a year-and-a-half earlier — and saying I owed them about $75.

It took several phone calls and an email to my insurance carrier, but the billing company ended up telling me that they had taken over billing for that medical business, the records were a mess, and I didn’t actually owe them anything.

Said another way: They sent me a bill for money I did not owe.

Medical bills are so confusing that I might have just paid this one had it not seemed so unusual. Typically, there’s not even a co-pay for a flu shot for insured patients. The bill was for a service date long ago, and the charges seemed unusual.

He gives this advice:

There’s no guarantee that complaining about an outrageous or errant bill will result in a satisfactory conclusion. It takes persistence and, sometimes, some public attention to the situation. But, knowing that some bills are incorrect, and others may be reversed if questions are raised, is enough reason to give medical bills careful scrutiny.

For more information on the issues surrounding medical debt, please contact RIP Medical Debt.