Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tips for Saving $ on Hospital Bills

Before we decided to try for a baby, I called my insurance company to get a basic idea of how much it was all going to cost me.  Not that it mattered, but I am a planner and I wanted to know what to expect.  Basically they told me that I should probably plan on paying the maximum out of pocket costs for one person, me.  Ok, fine, I can handle that.

At 20 weeks or so, we decided to do all the screening for problems, and before we did so, I called the insurance company with all the testing code numbers to make sure the tests were covered.  I wrote down the person that I talked to, the date, and the time just to be safe.  Which is good, because at first my insurance company denied the testing claim, and I was billed the full amount, which was over $900.  Once I proved to the insurance company that I had called to check that very thing, they paid my claim!

A few weeks before I was due, I called again to check into the coverage and make sure I knew how many nights were covered after delivery.  Its pretty standard, but for me it was 2 if I had a vaginal delivery, 3 for a c-section.  And the nights pretty much start AFTER you have the baby, so the Friday night I was still in labor didn't end up counting for me.

I ended up with a c-section, and H spent 36 hours in NICU.  Everything happened so fast, and you don't really refuse medical care they need to give you while you are there, so the cost never really crossed my mind.  But since H had her own care and own set of doctors, she got some bills as well.  And by some I really mean a lot.  So I pretty much ended up paying her maximum out of pocket cost as well.  So double what I was expecting for the whole thing.

When the bills started coming in, I was pretty overwhelmed and confused.  But after talking to my Mom (who has lots of experience with medical bills) and the insurance company, I came up with a system.

When the bill comes from a particular provider, set it aside and ignore it.  Wait for your insurance company statement, or check your statement online.  What each company says you owe should match up with what the insurance company says is left after it pays their portion.  Sometimes the care provider will send you a bill before it has billed or cleared part of the bill with your insurance company, so you can't really trust them.  If the amount the insurance company says is left does not match up with the bill the provider sent, call the insurance company.  They will act as an intermediary and help settle it.

Now, once you know how much you owe each provider, call them and ask for a discount.  If you are able to pay in full, without making payments, many will offer you up to a 15% discount right up front.  They want to get paid, and if you are willing to do so, they are happy.  I saved at least $800 just by asking for a discount to pay in full.  After the provider gives you the new discounted amount, most of the time you must pay that within 15 days, so be prepared to pay right then.

All the bills can be confusing, but just keep them organize and keep track of all your payments.  Doctor visits, hospital bills, lab work and prescriptions are all tax deductible, so it really pays off to keep organized!!!


Jason and Jenny said...

Wish I had read this before I paid all our many hospital bills when having drew. Very helpful! Love your blog! You do a great job at helpin other moms or soon to be moms!

Holly Austin said...

Oh goodness, I wish I had known this in January! My baby girl had to spend 7 days in NICU so we had to pay max out of pocket for each of us. I never even thought of asking for a discount, but I should have because they charge WAY more than what they should for a lot of stuff! A nurse finally told me to stop refusing my meds and to bring my own to save money.