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My $61,000 Hospital Bill - A Follow Up

In a follow up post to this one about my $61,000 one night stay in the hospital for strep throat and a sinus infection, I thought I would let you know how it turned out...
Ok, so I posted about this originally on August 28 of last year, and I was in the hospital at the end of July. It wasn't until November 20 that I received this from my insurance provider.

Well, of course I was livid, but again, I knew that I would never have to pay $59,799. So, I waited another month and half before receiving my final hospital bill, at the end of December. It stated that my insurance provider had paid $58,000, and I was reponsible for the final $3,000. Now that I had all of my bills, I could do what I originally wanted to do and contact a hospital bill advocacy group. Namely, I contacted Medical Billing Advocates of America and spoke with Brett, who was totally and completely convinced that this was ridiculous and we could definitely get those costs down. See, these people request your hospital bills and then go over it with a fine tooth comb and are able to read those hospital bills that might as well be in Ancient Hebrew. I have no idea what those codes mean, but they do, and they can make sure that the amount you are charged, for say, a strep test (um, originally $1,200) is in line with the average cost at most hospitals.
So, a couple of weeks later, in mid-January, I had recieved a total of 3 bills from the hospital for $3,000. He had faxed my medical release I signed to the hospital on a Friday morning. Having received my third bill that weekend, I called Brett to see if I should at least contact the billing department and tell them I wasn't ignoring the bill. He said, that was a good idea, and to follow up about the medical release he had sent that previous Friday. I called the billing department, and they said they had received the release. When I asked them about my $3,000 bill, they said, "Oh you don't owe $3,000, it shows you owe $717, which includes the $500 deductible your insurance requires we charge." I said, "that's funny, because you JUST sent me a $3,000 bill on Saturday." They couldn't tell me why it had dropped so low for no reason, but I know that it is because they received that fax and didn't want to open themselves up to being questioned. I wasn't charged a dime, and Brett was so nice to me!
So, all in all, the actual hospital stay ended up costing the insurance provider $2,175, and I will pay $717, for a grand total of $2,892, off of the original $61,000. And I KNOW if I hadn't gone through the bill advocacy group, they would have tried to negotiate my bill a little lower, but not nearly as low as $717.
What is the moral of this story? Well, there are a few and here they are.
1. Just because a hospital gives you a bill, it does not mean that bill is set in stone. You have rights as a consumer! The bill advocacy group would have charged me 10% of what I would have saved. So, in my case, my original bill was $3,000 out of pocket. If they'd have saved ALL of it, I would have owed them $300. Not bad. It's totally worth it and will save you money.
2. Don't ignore bills. Even if you don't plan to pay right then, you make sure to call them often and stay in communication. All too often, people are afraid and just ignore the problem. Had I ignored this one, I probably would have ended up with a hospital bill in collections for thousands of dollars, that I never could have argued out of.
3. Don't be bullied! You can be nice, but stand your ground and find someone who will help you!
4. Don't go to the hospital for a sinus infection! No, just kidding.
All's well that ends well, right?


KCPOLP said…
Great advice! I can't imagine what my sons bill is going to look like. We've been in the hospital a month!

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