While having health insurance is the first step towards protecting yourself from medical bills, you need to monitor the process to ensure the integrity of your financial status. Here are 3 easy steps to follow to achieve that goal:
1. Use your health insurance portal to monitor medical claims
Most insurance companies provide an on-line patient portal that gives access to all health insurance claims information. Each time a provider submits a claim for services, it will be listed on your portal in the form of an explanation of benefits (EOB). This enables you to review what was submitted, how it was processed for payment, what was paid to the provider, and what you might be responsible to pay for the service. This could be the first point at which you might detect health insurance coverage issues that could result in medical bill problems.
2. Compare all medical bills to your EOBs
Before paying a medical bill, be sure to review it in detail against the EOB summarizing how the claim was processed by your insurance company. If there is a discrepancy, don’t ignore it and assume it will be fixed by the doctor or your insurer. You need to be proactive about disputing a medical bill or risk having your account placed in collection, and thereby, having your credit tarnished for an outstanding bill.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Medical claims, and the bills that result from their processing, can be confusing. To get answers, you might need to have a series of conversations with your insurer and medical provider to explain the process. Be prepared to hear conflicting statements from the parties involved….but don’t accept those answers until they make sense to you. It is your right to be given timely answers to your questions.
Avoid the temptation to either pay a medical bill immediately because you assume it is correct, or conversely, ignore the bill because you assume it is incorrect. Either instinct could have significant financial consequences for you. If the process becomes too intricate and time-consuming, seek the assistance of a medical billing advocate who can provide assistance with medical bills either through medical bill appeals, medical bill disputes, or medical bill negotiation.