Up to 80% of medical bills may contain errors, such as a duplicate charge or incorrect code. With the rise of high-deductible health plans and less choice of in-network providers, these mistakes can quickly go from human error to pocketbook buster. Casting a critical eye over your medical claims is one way to avoid paying more than you should because of billing mishaps, and step one is to keep your medical bills organized. At the end of the day, well-kept medical bills could help you save money.
What to expect from your provider
The first step in staying organized is knowing exactly what types of documents are coming your way. After receiving care from your doctor or hospital, you should expect two important documents in the mail: the actual medical bill and the explanation of benefits, or EOB.
Managing your medical bills
You’ll receive a medical bill directly from your provider of care, be it a hospital, doctor, clinic, pharmacy, or laboratory. You may receive medical bills from multiple providers even though your treatment happened on the same day and in the same facility. Let’s say, for example, that you hurt your knee. You may get a bill from the imaging facility where you got an MRI as well as from the radiologist who read the MRI. Let’s assume that that injury turned out to be a torn ligament that required reconstructive surgery. After the surgery, you might receive statements from the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the hospital in which the surgery was performed. If that’s the case, make sure that you aren’t charged twice for anything.
Keeping track of your EOB
Insurance carriers typically negotiate discounts with medical providers in exchange for sending plan members to the providers’ hospitals. The EOB serves as the document that explains this discount to you. It will also show the amount you owe. If your provider didn’t send you an itemized statement, it would be wise to request one, as this will help you compare your EOB to each medical bill you receive from your care provider. This, in turn, will make it much easier to spot billing mistakes. Last, it’s worth noting that an EOB may include more than one medical bill—and vice versa. If that’s the case, make a copy and carefully compare it to each individual bill to ensure that all of the expenses add up.
As well as keeping your medical bills and EOBs organized, there are several other things you can do to stay on top of your medical expenses. For one, you might want to create a calendar showing all your medical appointments, featuring notes with the name of the provider and the type of care provided. That way, you’ll know when and from whom you should be expecting bills and EOBs.
It also makes sense to organize your medical bills and EOBs by the date you received care, rather than the date you received the bill. On a related note, you should keep track of the dates you paid each bill, and make copies of the check or credit card receipt of each payment. When paying these bills, be sure to have a copy of your current insurance benefits and/or health care plan description on hand for quick reference.
Although a pen and paper should suffice when completing these tasks, there are a couple apps out there that can help you stay organized in the digital world. Both CakeHealth and Simplee are convenient and user-friendly apps that can help you keep track of your medical expenses without any clutter or file folders.
Image of woman paying bills via Shutterstock.