How are you feeling today? If the answer is, "not so good," you may want to wait before you make a trip to the hospital. SmartMoney.com recently offered up a list of ten things hospitals won't tell you, and editor Ray Hennessey has some advice on how to save some money when it comes to medical claims.
When it comes to hospital fees, keep in mind that every bill can be negotiated. If your insurance doesn't cover a certain procedure or test, often times, the hospital will be willing to settle on a price or payment plan with you. "Hospitals don't want you to default on your payment because you can't end up paying the bills," says Hennessey. "If there's a charge that maybe you think is too high, or you can't pay... they'd rather negotiate a settlement or payment... [than send it to collection] because they're going to lose money."
Also, be sure that every doctor who sees and treats you in a hospital is within your insurance company's network. "Obviously, if you're going in for emergency surgery, you're not going to have that chance," says Hennessey. However, if you're going in for something more routine, or perhaps a planned procedure, be sure that every doctor, from the radiologist to the anesthesiologist, is in your network. Otherwise, says Hennessey, you'll be responsible for more of the final cost.
Finally, as with any bill, be sure to review the charges. "Hospital billing is horrible when it comes to mistakes," says Hennessey. "We get complaints from people who are being billed twice for the same thing, being billed by doctors who've never even seen them. Get an itemized bill before you check out and make sure every charge is there [and correct]."
For more tips on how to handle medical bills, click here.
By Erin Petrun
Copyright 2007 CBS. All rights reserved.