How to deal with a hospital that’s overbilling you

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If you go to the emergency room without insurance, you might not be getting charged at the correct rate in accordance with federal law.

Did you know hospitals are required to bill uninsured patients at no higher a rate than a person who has insurance? That’s a not exactly widely known provision that was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The tradeoff for hospitals in doing this is that they’re saving millions in taxes through their non-profit status. But the problem is, too many hospitals are ignoring the provision.

So if you’re uninsured, you must ask if you’re being billed at an equivalent rate of somebody who has insurance. That is your right under the law. If you discover you’re not being billed properly, have the hospital recalculate the bill the right way.

Read more: 5 ways to afford dental care when you’re on a fixed income

These organizations can help you get to the bottom of your bill

Medical debt is damaging the credit of around 43 million people, according to the latest figures available. You would expect damaged credit from medical bills to be a problem for the uninsured. But the untold story here is that people with insurance get their credit trashed both because of billing mix-ups and high debt-to-income ratios.

Some of that debt is debt that people don’t legitimately owe. That’s because roughly eight in 10 hospital bills have multiple errors, according to Money magazine. So almost always the bill will be wrong, and it won’t be in your favor.

It’s hard to blame hospitals for the mistakes because they are so difficult to run. But should you just roll over and pay the bills? No way!

When ever you have a hospital visit, you need to document everything that goes on in the hospital.

Keep a log of what goes on and ask a friend or relative to write down every medication you are taking and every procedure you have.

Then when the time comes to get the bill, ask for it to be itemized. You can then compare everything you have written down to everything on the list. It’s up to you to be on your toes in the hospital.


You can also hire claims assistance professionals or medical billing advocates who will look over your bill and vet it for errors. They’re available in more than half of all states in the country.

Visit or to locate one near you and expect to pay between $30 and $50 per hour for their services. Anyone who is uninsured and paying retail for expensive medical services should go this route.

Read more: Top health insurers for 2016

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