11 Aug Why Medical Billing Complaints Are Rising?
According to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, 80% of all medical bills contain at least one error. Often that error is related to overcharging someone either by double billing or charging for a procedure or treatment that never occurred. And although someone may have medical insurance, chances are they will have a balance to pay on a visit, operation, hospital stay, or some other related medical service.
Of course, often that balance is never discussed. In fact, most times people have no idea about how much a procedure will cost or how much their copay or deductible will be. When they finally do get their bill they can be in for a big surprise. This automatically creates a situation in which distrust is felt and that can result in numerous queries and complaints.
Over the past 50 years, changes in how we perceive the medical profession, rising medical costs, and advances in medicine have all contributed to billing questions. There has been a marked increase in inquiries by patients about their medical bills. What make patients more inquisitive and more willing to fight hospitals and doctors over their medical invoices? There are numerous reasons contributing to this situation.
First of all, about 60 years ago there was a movement in the US for consumer rights. That movement eventually included giving consumers the right to question a medical bill and to have proof of its legitimacy and accuracy. Patients and their families have various choices when it comes to making a complaint, including doing so through their health insurance provider, legislators, and the courts. They can acquire free legal advice and sometimes free representation, and the fact is if they have a legitimate complaint, chances are they will get it heard and win.
Access to News
The news is everywhere and just about every day you can find a story related to medical billing mistakes or outright fraud. The large number of news stories about medical billing problems has helped to create a situation where people are on the lookout for mistakes.
Reports of doctors ripping off patients, phantom medical charges, and commonly discovered basic mistakes have fueled public distrust of the medical profession and their billing practices. It doesn’t help either that it costs so much to get medical attention in the US and that a comprehensive medical insurance plan is often very pricey. With more public distrust comes more public scrutiny.
Complexity of Billing
Medical bills also call attention to themselves because they are so complex. Often consumers feel as if the doctor or hospital is trying to hide something from them. Medical invoices can be very difficult to read and so, it makes sense that people would question their veracity. Sometimes charges are lumped together and hidden, and other times they are not adequately described.
If you are a medical practitioner, there are a few things that you can do to help create a sense of trust about billing with a patient. The first is to have your staff be upfront about charges. Preferably before the patient comes to your office. Gathering medical insurance information before a visit and informing the patient of their coverage can go a long way to creating trust.
Also, if you are willing to set up a payment plan, which most doctors will do, make this information public. Saying that right from the start can help to assuage patient anxiety, and it encourages them to be active in the billing process.
Finally, make sure that your practice and those handling your medical coding and billing are documenting everything accurately. Most physicians now record billing and treatment information on an electronic device. With the simple slip of a finger, a doctor or nurse can make an inadvertent billing mistake.
Handle all billing queries professionally and quickly. Follow up with patients and make sure that those who are working in your billing department are good listeners and accurate record-keepers.