Losing sleep over hospital and doctor bills? Here’s how a medical billing advocate can help.

3 minute read

There’s nothing like hospital and doctor bills spilling from your mailbox to make you want to take to your bed again and dream that all that medical debt went away – or at least that you’re able to understand pages of charges or why your health insurance company denied your claim.

To make matters worse, up to 80% of medical bills contain at least one mistake, so you may have already paid for charges never received or billed more than once.

If you don’t understand charges on hospital and doctor’s bills, maybe it’s time to hire a medical billing advocate, a professional experienced at insurance claim appeals, zeroing in on billing errors and negotiating with billing departments at hospitals, doctor’s offices and other healthcare providers.

Find out seven reasons to consider hiring a medical billing advocate to ease your medical debt headache.

1. You’re sick of medical debt stress and anxiety

It’s bad enough when you have medical bills you can’t afford or understand. But when medical debt keeps you awake at night and transforms you into an anxious, depressed person who snaps at friends, family and maybe even strangers, maybe it’s time to pay someone to do the stressful work for you.

Medical billing advocates generally charge a percentage of how much they saved on your medical bills. Some charge an hourly rate, ranging from $75 to $350. Hiring a medical billing advocate to examine your medical bills and deal with billing departments and insurance companies could be worth the cost.

Find out: What Happens If You Don’t Pay Medical Bills?

2. You’re baffled by your bill

Hospital and doctor bills are filled with codes and numbers that make no sense to the average person. However, those codes represent procedures, treatment and other costs that determine how much you or your health insurance provider are billed.

You can look up all those codes yourself online on any number of websites, and you can even lookup online the average cost for medical procedures on the Healthcare Bluebook or FAIR Health, a health insurance claim database that shows prices in your region.

So, if you have only a few codes to look up or hours to spare to examine a lengthy hospital bill, go for it. But if you want lower medical bills, you’re probably better off hiring a medical billing advocate, who already knows many of the codes or where to look them up.

Find out: Start Paying Down Your Medical Bills in 5 Steps

3. You suspect you’re being overbilled

If your hospital bill seems exceptionally high, errors such as the wrong diagnostic code or billing for procedures you never received could be the cause. Maybe the hospital billing department submitted the incorrect code on a claim to your health insurance provider.

Hiring a medical billing advocate can help, since he or she has probably read hundreds or thousands of medical bills and knows how to spot billing mistakes quickly.

Find out: 5 Things That Could Happen if You Don’t Pay Medical Bills on Time – or at All

4. Your health insurance provider denied your claim

Have you ever called a health insurance company to dispute denial of a claim? It’s no fun to wait forever on hold only to learn that the person finally answering is in the wrong department. And it’s also a pain to get transferred all over the place for 30 minutes, only to be mysteriously disconnected.

A medical billing advocate has probably handled more health insurance appeals than most people would see in a hundred lifetimes. So why not let a professional do the work for you to hopefully lower your medical bill?

Find out: How to Deal with Medical Debt in Collections

5. Your mind isn’t clear

It’s especially important to consider hiring a medical billing advocate when your cognitive skills aren’t up to par. When you’re on the other end – or in the throes of – of a serious illness such as cancer or a stroke or you’ve undergone treatment that impairs your cognitive abilities, you’re in no position to try and figure out hospital and doctor bills or appeal a wrongfully denied claim.

Find out: Do Medical Bills Affect Your Credit?

6. You’re physically impaired

Even if your mind is clear after treatments or surgeries, you may have vision, hearing or other physical impairments that make understanding or disputing medical bills difficult or impossible. That’s where hiring a medical billing advocate can help.

A medical billing advocate can slog through all your medical bills, get on the phone or correspond with your health insurance company so you don’t have undue stress on top of health issues.

Find out: How to Roll All Your Medical Bills in One with Medical Debt Consolidation

7. You want to negotiate a settlement or lower bill

Medical billing advocates negotiate lower bills all the time. That’s why they know exactly what to say – and what not to say – when it comes to striking a deal with a hospital billing department or a surgeon’s billing office.

Another plus to hiring someone to negotiate for you: It’s all business to a medical billing advocate, who won’t get red-faced in frustration, hang up in a rage or take rejection of a settlement offer personally.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC