Tips to Prevent Billing Problems
Billing and insurance can be confusing, so here are some tips to prevent billing problems:
- Make sure your bill is actually a bill. If carefully checked, what appears to be a bill may actually say: $0 balance due; your commercial carrier has been billed; or this is not a bill. No payment is required at this point.
- Carefully read every bill or statement from your doctor, insurance company or hospital. Do not assume that your insurance plan will take care of it for you. Call the telephone number on the document with any questions.
- Always get the name and phone number of any insurance/hospital/physician office billing person you talk to. Note the date and time of the conversation. If you are not satisfied, ask to speak with their supervisor. If still not satisfied, go up another level. If still not satisfied, ask for a face-to-face meeting or an appeal of the payment matter. As a last resort, write a letter - insurance companies and HMOs must respond to formal written appeals.
- Sometimes employers fail to pass on their files of new employees eligible for coverage to their carrier/health plan. Make sure you are covered. Check with your benefits manager. If you have recently been hired or changed plans, always double check with your benefits manager.
- Keep all invoices, receipts, billing statements, bills, copies of checks and interactions with billing personnel in chronological order in case you need to refer back.
- Always call immediately if you notice a billing problem or if you do not understand the bill. The sooner you bring it to someone's attention, the fresher your experience will be with your doctors and hospital and therefore easier to track and resolve.
- Full payment of your bill is expected within 30 days. If you are unable to pay, please call the hospital at (319) 398-6856, or stop into the hospital to discuss your situation with a financial counselor. Our staff will be happy to assist you. Patients may be eligible for state, federal or local funds that cover hospital bills.
- Be persistent. There is a window of opportunity to have bills resolved. If you wait too long it becomes harder. If you are not satisfied with answers, keep calling back and schedule face-to-face meetings.