Friday, June 30, 2006

Hospitals - Gotta Watch Them Like a Hawk

I was very fortunate that my old insurance company covered my prenatal visits 100%. Since I knew sometime in the future I would like another child, I was curious to see what the charges looked like so I asked for an itemized bill of all charges.

To my surprise, I was being billed for procedures I didn't have! What really bugged me was that there is no way I could have one of them performed or they would have killed me!!

To put it lightly, I was furious. It didn't matter that I wasn't paying any money out of my pocket - I couldn't believe the errors that I saw. I went back and I fought them and they removed the erroneous charges. No wonder health insurance is so expensive when the hospitals are constantly overcharging for things. It's not just me, there's an article over at MSN about Hospital Overcharging. I really feel sick to my stomach when I think about this subject.

Health care is a real sore spot for me because it's the one expense where you really can't shop around for the best price. I've tried asking before how much a procedure would cost and they couldn't tell me. Only after I got it and it went through billing would I know. How are they allowed to do that?

I've been fortunate and since the birth of my son and I haven't had a hospital stay. I know I will be checking the next bill over and over and I will be incorporating the following (thanks to the article at MSN) to help make sure I am not overcharged and have some control of what I am paying for:

1.) I am keeping a log of all tests and procedures done. When I receive my bill, I will compare the log with what the hospital said was done.

2.) I am going to ask if I am going to have to pay for disposable things in my room even if I don't use it. If I am forced to pay - they go with me when I leave.

3.) I am going to call ahead (if possible) and ask about items that I will be supplied with in the hospital room and will be charged for, but I don't have to have. I will tell them that I do not want them and I will bring items from home.

Yeah, I'm going pretty extreme with this but it really does get me hot under the collar how hospitals get away with this. And it makes me very sad that there are people in financial despair because of a catastrophic medical event occurring and some of it could be from overcharges.

In my opinion, credit cards may be sneaky with their tactics, but I think hospitals are lower on the scale.


D said...

Hi Tricia,

I wanted to respond but had too much to say. So please look at my blog.

I am right with you, being disgusted about the hospital tactics.

Tricia said...

Hi D,

Thanks for adding your experience on your blog - here's a direct link:

I had no idea that insurance companies would send me a portion of what I save them! I think it's great that they they do that, I just wish I knew more about everything back then :)