My 59 year old dad suddenly had a heart attack and needed to have triple bypass surgery. He was not working and did not have any form of health insurance at the time. Fortunately, everything turned out good for him healthwise, but my family ended up in $150,000 of medical bills. We panicked and consulted a friend of ours who was an attorney. After reviewing the detailed, itemized bill he highlighted some things that he wanted us to dispute with the hospital. According to him some of the treatments/services on the bill should not have been given to my father. My mother was busy taking care of my father so I took on the responsibility of working with the hospital.
I was nervous about calling the hospital as I figured they got calls like mine all day long and would dismiss me right away. After being shuffled back and forth for several days I finally spoke to someone who wanted us to dispute the bill in writing. I drafted a letter on my father’s behalf and faxed it right away. We waited for what seemed like eternity but after about 45 days we got the hospital’s response. Turns out the hospital acknowledged that there was a mistake with the bill and took off several treatments and services they had charged us for. The total savings amount was close to $25,000! I wondered how many other people this had happened to and they innocently paid the amount! Without an insurance carrier working closely with the hospital like in our situation, the hospital pretty much gets away with charging people for whatever they please.
I called our attorney friend to let him know what had happened and to thank him. He wanted me to go see a counselor at the hospital and ask for some further assistance in paying the bill. At the very least he figured we could get on a payment plan. The hospital assigned a social worker to our case. I worked with her and the hospital and after proving to them that my father was not working, we were able to get another $15,000 in state and hospital assistance and a payment plan for the remainder of the bill. We still had to pay the remainder of the money but the $40,000 off and the payment plan certainly helped!
My advice to anyone out there stuck with a huge medical bill is to always ask for help. You never know what kind of concession you can get if you only ask. Always ask for an itemized bill from your hospital or insurance carrier. If you are not sure how to read the bill correctly ask a friend or family member for help. Maybe someone who has been through a similar treatment or is educated in the medical field. Ask for a social worker either from the hospital or third party and ask them for options that you might be missing. There might be state or hospital funded assistance available that you may not even know about.