Why You Need to Read Your Medical Bills

Why You Need to Read Your Medical Bills

Going Over Medical Bills Can Save You Money and Hassle

Whether someone visits the doctor once a month or twice a week, one thing’s for certain: medical bills will appear in the mailbox. Instead of tossing them onto the counter or in the recycling bin, take the time to really review the statement. When there’s a charge that doesn’t add up or balances that weren’t picked up by the insurance company, don’t panic. It’s likely a simple mistake like a coding or treatment error or discrepancy with insurance coverage that can be resolved.

The Importance of Taking a Detailed Look

It’s not unusual to receive multiple bills in the mail. Some actually aren’t bills at all, but rather just a statement of charges or services, so it’s important to know the difference between the two. Another thing to be aware of is that the insurance company may send a bill and the hospital may send one as well, so sit down and compare the two.

Look for terms like “summary of charges” or “this is not a bill.” One thing to be aware of is the fact that it can take time for insurance payments to process, so review the details to see if any are still processing. If there’s a line item that says pending or refused by the insurance company, then it’s time to call and find out why.

Check for Insurance Coding Errors

Each medical procedure and service has its own specific code, referred to as an ICD-9-CM code. It’s also used for certain diagnoses as well. These codes are used by medical billing staff to process payments and determine the amount of coverage through the insurance company. It’s easy to look these codes up online through a simple search, if you’re unsure what it pertains to.


A code error or extra code entered by the doctor or medical staff can lead to overcharges and if the insurance company doesn’t pay, you’re likely going to be on the hook. In these instances, it’s necessary to contact the doctor or medical care provider to resolve the error.

Insurance Coverage

For people with multiple insurance plans or those who have not met their annual deductible, medical bills can be hard to decipher. If an individual has disability insurance or recently changed insurance coverage, the statements may include these factors and cause confusion. In this case, you should call the main insurance company and give them information about additional plans you have.

Treatment Discrepancies

Check closely for intentional overcharges that may or may not be covered. For example, being charged for an MRI when it was only a standard x-ray can be a huge cost difference. Even if the insurance company pays for it, it’s an error and should be corrected.

Find an Error? What to do Next

If you find any errors or mistakes in a medical bill, the first thing to do is contact the phone number on the bill. This should be the initial method of action to resolve the issue. If it’s something that can be rectified immediately, payments will be refunded. If there’s a dispute, be sure to document the phone call including the date, time and person you spoke to, and notate what the error is. If your finances are tight, you can seek help paying bills by checking out local and online resources.


Medical bills can be difficult to understand, but keeping the lines of communication open with the billing company is important for a resolution. Tackling small disputes now can reduce the impact of a charge affecting credit ratings down the road.

~Here’s to Your Financial Health!

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