Navigating the tricky waters of medical bills-to protect yourself against errors and abuses you need to watch and keep good records

This article in the New York Times highlights a problem we have seen increasingly of late, the sometimes confusing morass of medical bills.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/23/your-money/health-insurance/navigating-the-labyrinth-of-medical-costs-your-money.html?_r=1. In this day and age, everyone needs to watch closely and keep careful records. In law as in life “those with the best paperwork tend to win”. Fighting and challenging medical bills, and demanding that insurance companies pay what they should is time consuming, and sadly, sometimes necessary.

Doing this, we know, can only compound the stress and distress of other problems. Unpaid medical bills may, and are often only part of the problem. If you are loaded with other debt, various forms of debt relief, or debt relief planning may be essential.  Medical bill collectors are held to the same rules and standards as other bill collectors.

We recommend:

1. Keep all your medical bills and medical records for at least 12 months, or until your treatment with that provides is finished and fully paid for 6 months.

2. Read the notices on your right to appeal limitations or denials of insurance and exercise your rights.

3. Anytime you speak to someone, take notes of the date, who you spoke to and what was said. If possible and something significant was said, confirm by fax or email.

4. Read all bills or Explanation of Benefits when you get them. Keep complete copies of all medical insurance policies for at least the past 4 years.

5. When signing agreements with providers, always ask for a copy of what you signed. This is your right. Watch out when signing for someone else.

6. If the bill is old, (ie over 6 years in New Jersey) watch out that by making even a small payment you may resurred an old and timebarred debt.

7. Don’t accept any abusive behavior from any debt collector.

Seek qualified legal advice.

 



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