Having Surgery Soon? Look Out for Balance Billing!

Posted on July 4, 2016 at 12:00pm by
Student debt defaults are on the rise.

Medical debt continues to be a hassle for Americans, and in some cases, unexpected costs can amount to thousands of dollars. PBS recently published a transcript of an interview with a man who underwent triple bypass surgery and received an unexpected $2,200 medical bill in the mail weeks later.

The man was covered by the hospital and surgeon, but not by the doctor who took care of him while staying in the intensive care unit. Had he known, it is possible he could have avoided an unexpected $2,200 bill! Like many other Americans, this man was caught off guard by balance billing, a process where health insurance covers some procedures or doctors, but not others.

A recent poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research discovered two-thirds of Americans would be unable to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense. Many people hit with balance billing pay multiple times that amount.

How Can Hospital Patients Avoid Balance Billing?

Not all people will have the option of avoiding balance billing because medical emergencies can happen without warning. However, avoiding balance billing is possible for some people, so it does warrant further discussion. If you are about to undergo a serious procedure, it is essential to do some homework.

To avoid surprise bills, you should compile a list of assistant surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and anyone else who might be involved with your procedure (this includes labs who handle bloodwork or other diagnostic testing).

You might be able to obtain this information from the specialist overseeing your procedure. In other cases, the hospital may have a recently updated directory where you can pull this information. After creating a list, call up your insurance provider to see who is covered under your policy. If possible, you should request specialists who are covered under your policy to carry out your procedure.

Balance billing is not the only cause of unaffordable medical bills. Insurance policies with high deductibles may also catch people off guard. Unfortunately, some people may not have the time to research every aspect of their insurance policies or hospitals before going under the knife.

The Kansas City bankruptcy attorneys at The Sader Law Firm are happy to help people find solutions for managing their finances or discharging excessive debts.