We had a baby recently…well, maybe not so recently, but it seems like it since we’re still getting bills for various services pertaining to the pregnancy and birthing. In fact, just the other day, we received a bill for services from over 14 months ago. It makes you wonder just what the heck is going on over there in health care land and how it could possibly take a year or more to get a bill sent.
However, since my wife works in the health care field, and I have experience with billing through my previous work in hotel finance, we’ve learned to be wary of health-related bills. We’ve found that it’s important to review these bills closely and sometimes make calls regarding their relevancy and accuracy.
Knowing limits and coverage rules
It helps to have an idea of just how your insurance plan coverage is set up. This can include understanding not only how much premium coverage costs, but also knowing what deductibles are, what total out-of-pocket costs can be, and whether there is any money set aside in a health reimbursement account.
For example, our health insurance policy is set up with a family in-network deductible of $1,350 and a family maximum out-of-pocket of $6,000. Knowing how much we’ve paid toward these amounts as we move forward throughout the year gives us a clearer understanding of where we are and helps ensure we aren’t mistakenly paying more than our coverage dictates.
Tracking bills and outstanding amounts
Over the years (and especially when having our babies when bills were coming in fast and furious), we’ve found it helpful to retain all medical bills and statements that are sent to us. Not only do we keep such items in a file folder, but when we write the checks for these items, we note the associated invoice number on the check and note the check number on the retained invoice or statement.
This makes it much easier to reference such items and keep payments organized if or when issues arise down the road with hospital or insurance billing departments.
Calling to verifying accuracy and liability
But sometimes bills arrive for services or amounts that we just aren’t sure about. Unlike most of our bills for things like utilities and the credit card where charges are pretty cut and dry, health and medical-related bills might not be so easy to interpret.
The last two bills that we received were for the birth of our second child (nearly a year after the fact), and totaled over $600, so we called the insurance company to validate. We were glad that we did since the insurance company had already been in contact with the hospital and said that we should not have to pay these amounts since the billings were incorrect.
While I’m not sure what would have happened had we paid them, I’m not positive we would have gotten a refund had we not called, and I would prefer to make a five minute phone call rather than have to wait for months and jump through any number of hoops in an effort to get our money back or not get it back at all.
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The author is not a licensed financial, healthcare or insurance industry professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.