Sickening state of medical bills

The last thing you need after a medical procedure or hospital stay is a pile of confusing bills. Especially if those bills contain unexpected charges or incorrect fees. These are common and sometimes complicated problems that Consumer Reports says can take years to resolve.

A Consumer Reports survey recently found that 2 out of 3 people who had a major health expense in the past
two years had a problem with a bill. More than a third said they had paid bills they weren’t even sure they owed. They felt it was too much trouble or too much effort to fight.

So what can do to ease the pain? You can work with a nonprofit patient-advocacy group, which will help lay out the steps take. You can also hire a medical-billing advocate for a fee. And if the unexpected charge is one you actually owe, you can try to negotiate with your provider. It may offer you a payment plan or if you agree to pay in cash right away, discount the amount.

Consumer Reports also says that if possible, know exactly what’s covered before you go in for a procedure. That can help avoid surprises later. Also, if you’re asked to sign a document that says you accept financial responsibility, write in that you agree only for services that are in-network. It’s no guarantee, but it may help if you need to dispute a charge later.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.