One of the hats I wear as a Health Advocate is helping my clients understand their medical bills. After a hospital stay or a visit to their provider, multiple bills arrive in the mail that can cause a lot of confusion. Most people avoid the confusion by just paying the bill without asking any questions. While this may be the easiest solution, it is often the wrong way to approach your medical bills.

Medical bills often contain errors. Some have estimated that the error rate is as high as 90 percent. The sad part is that the insurance companies don’t care if the bills contain errors; they often don’t even ask the provider to itemize the bill. They just negotiate a contracted rate with the provider and are unaware of overcharges on the bill.

Something is really wrong with this scenario! So, before you pay that bill, do some work to make sure you are not overpaying for your care.

If you don’t mind using a computer, take the time to sign up on your health insurance website. This simple step gives you the opportunity to view your explanation of benefits (commonly called an EOB form), which explains what medical treatments or services were paid for on your behalf by the insurance company. You can also request a paper copy of your EOB from the insurance company. The EOB gives you the total costs for the service or treatment, what the insurance company approved, and what your patient responsibility is.

I tell my clients to never pay a bill until they have viewed their EOB report. Many times the bill from the provider arrives prior to receiving the EOB. This is where most people make their first mistake when paying medical bills. The bills are often extremely confusing to understand and most people assume that there is nothing you can do about the final cost.

If you take the time to look at your EOB first, you can review the dates of service, the services provided, and the codes for those services. Check to make sure you are not being charged for services you did not receive, or that you were not billed more than once for the same service. If you don’t understand your EOB or something doesn’t look right to you, take the time to call your insurance provider to ask them about the charges. You may also need to contact the provider if you have been charged for services, medical supplies, or equipment you have not received.

Bottom line: stop before you pay that bill to make sure you are responsible for the costs. Consider using a health advocate to do the leg work for you, especially if you have a serious health condition with multiple medical bills. Severino Health Advisors offers a free 15-minute phone consultations to see if we can help you. Contact us today!