Life can be unpredictable and so the surprising medical debts. Life can strike you in a sudden and lingering disease that you may end up finding yourself on a hospital bed or under OT lights. Once you are treated and back home, you unsurprisingly receive a large medical bill. This jarring feeling can make you confused but hang on!! There can be some errors. If there are, know the medical billing errors patient rights to get informed about the next step to tackle the situation as early as you can.
It is important to understand that the soon you get to know things, the closer you get to reducing and even waiving off the medical debt. However, delaying the process will not only exert extra stress but it can get hard to find ways that can help you in the near time. Following are some solutions that will help understand doctors’ responsibilities for preparing medical bills and your rights as a patient.
Understand medical billing errors patient rights
Rights of Secure information
Whenever a patient’s record is taken at a medical facility, it is the first obligation of the facility to secure patients’ information at every cost. It should be protected from getting stolen or used for scams. Whenever there’s a hospital visit, you are supposed to sign a HIPAA form that says your information won’t end up in security breach events. Besides, the form also gives the authority to the patient that if they find their data leakage, they can take legal action against the hospital or the practice in question.
The data could be anything from an email address to your medical debt information. Hackers and criminals can even scam using your social security number by acquiring certain benefits.
To prevent data breaches hospitals and practices are obligated to HIPAA compliance which compels them to install technical safeguards and enough security in place to keep patients’ personal information private.
If data is stolen, it is the responsibility of the practice or hospital to inform patients instantly and share possible solutions.
Bill payment rights
Once you get to know how much you have to pay as medical debt, don’t just pay it right away. First, you need to understand every cost per service by discussing it with your doctor and clear your confusion if you may have against your bill.
First, you need to review your bill by yourself to find errors and mistakes. See, if you have rested in the hospital for one night and the bill you receive has mentioned three days and three nights, you must bring your bills to the medical billing department at the facility, to amend the details.
Even after amendments, if you think you won’t be able to pay the billed amount, you can talk to the team and talk about the payment options. If you be honest with the team and tell them about your financial limitations and it’s your right to tell them how much you can afford. The medical officers can accommodate you and can find solutions.
In the case where you forgot to pay your medical bill or do not pay deliberately despite notifying the hospital, then your case would be sent to collection units. Once your debt file reaches the collection agency, your credit report will reflect a negative impact. They start their recovery by making phone calls and if you ignore them and they are left unanswered, then they will contact associated parties of your family to get a hold on. The whole situation can be daunting.
When a debt collector calls you, it is a must that you ask for your credit details and makes sure they are true. If you think that some medical details in your medical records are inaccurate, you have a right to confront the records with the collection agency by writing a dispute letter. Through this, you will be able to ask the agency to investigate and bring answers to the disputed entries. If you are dealing with a dispute and this makes you stressed, then you can also write a cease-and-desist letter to the collection agency for the termination of the contract. But this can only be done if you don’t own the debt but in case you own it, you will want to work with the collectors and pay off the debt with easy payment plans.
Common errors in medical billing
Medical billing errors can be as minor as the duplicate entry of services rendered, incorrect numbers of services acquired, canceled visits, or resources that weren’t used.
Many times, medical billers use templates of services with vague descriptions unmatched by the actual services provided. Therefore, patients often ask for a detailed version listing with the codes of the items billed so they can be cross-checked with the CMS website.
Oftentimes medical bills come up with incorrect patient credentials such as spelling errors in name, address, or birthdays. People often neglect common name errors when they are made in emails or at restaurants. But a single spelling mistake in your medical bill can result in huge financial consequences for payers.
When you visit a doctor, you may think your insurance payer will take care of your treatment cost. But there’s a thing called balance billing. This is the balance that you have to pay after your primary and secondary insurance payers. This error of balance billing can happen when you visited the practice more than once. But that cannot be something that should be done by mistake.
Coding errors in bills can also put you in the toll of paying a large amount. Codes can be used for services and resources which haven’t been provided. Such as you walked through the ER by walk and they mentioned that they used transport for it. These kinds of errors are quite hard to investigate, especially when the coder is not trained.
The medical billing process is an integral part of the revenue management of a practice or hospital. As a patient, you should know your rights if you find medical billing errors and mistakes in your bill and confront them to make possible amendments. To file a complaint against surprise medical bills, you can contact Help Desk of CMS at 1-800-985-3059 at 8 am to 8 pm EST, 7 days a week or submit your queries online.