In 2013, the America Medical Association estimated that 7.1% of paid claims in 2013 contained an error and a 2014 NerdWallet study found mistakes in 49% of Medicare claims. Groups that review bills on patients' behalf, including Medical Billing Advocates of America and CoPatient, put the error rate closer to 75% or 80%.
To that end, experts suggest reviewing medical bills closely before paying them. "Don't pay it until you understand it," said Sara Taylor, health solutions and strategies manager for benefits administrator Aon Hewitt.
For some consumers, spotting and correcting medical billing problems is getting easier. A forthcoming Aon Hewitt survey of 800 large and mid-size employers found that 45 percent offer advocacy services to help workers manage their health-care benefits; 43 percent are considering adding those services within five years.
Often, billing errors result in an out-of-pocket cost that's bigger than expected, either from a charge that shouldn't be there or a coding error that affected how your insurer processed the claim. Or, a bill is sent before payment is received from an insurer.
For those patients who do not have access to health concierge and patient advocacy services, asking for an itemized detailed statement is the best option. For those patients who are facing a big or complex bill, hiring a billing advocate is a solution.
Typically, review of the bill is free, with the service taking a cut of whatever savings it successfully secures for you. (MBAA takes a 25 percent cut; CoPatient, 35 percent.) Outsourcing the process can also save you time spent trying to get the bill corrected.
However, waiting too long to pay (or officially dispute) a medical bill is not recommended. Some providers are fast to take action on unpaid balances — resulting in 20 percent of consumers having an unpaid medical debt on their credit report, according to a 2014 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study. The average amount owed: $579.
The original article by Kelli Grant can be found at the following address: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/it-s-time-get-second-opinion-paying-medical-bill-n545626