We all know that healthcare in this country is expensive, but it’s not uncommon for someone to get a medical bill and be blown away. This is especially true when a minor injury can amount to tens of thousands of dollars to pay.
One in five ER visits result in a bill that is outrageously, and surprisingly, high. We see stories about this on the news all the time.
Take the family who recently received an $18,000 bill after bringing in their baby following a fall, though the baby was okay, and no special treatments were done.
Or last May, when a Wisconsin woman made national news for a $4,800-charge after opting in on laughing gas during labor.
While these charges can be “justified” by a hospital in some cases (insurance claims, mostly), don’t let these hyper-inflated price points fool you into thinking you have to pay. There are ways to negotiate, file a claim against, or even shame a hospital into lowering your bill to reflect reasonable rates.
Here’s what you can do…
Get More Information about Your Florida ER Charges
When you initially get a medical bill, you will probably just see one big, glaring number. If this number seems off to you, get more information. Request an itemized statement that includes every single line item charge.
Usually, those line-by-line explanations reveal the extra charges associated with visiting an out-of-network doctor or specialist. This can happen even when the hospital itself is covered by the patient’s insurance.
You’re also likely to be surprised at what even the most simple requests cost. Believe it or not, hospitals have charged patients upwards of $17 to mark your skin with a pen and $50 for a non-sterile pair of gloves. These are especially the things you want to review.
Further, you should inspect the list of charges thoroughly, and challenge any that might have slipped in due to error. If you have questions about your bill, reach out to a doctor in your area for advice.
Another option – ask the medical facility to audit your bill. Ninety percent of bills are the result of simply coding incorrectly or other miscommunication. When everything looks correct, note what your insurance is covering, too. High price tags may not be a case of overcharging but of bad faith insurance.
Negotiate on Florida ER Facility Fees
One of the heaviest hitters in emergency room visits are surprise facility fees. One woman in New Jersey incurred over $5,000 for visiting an emergency room after cutting her ear. She received an ice pack, but that’s about it. The majority of the cost was a “facility fee.”
Facility fees aren’t always $5,000, though. There are different “levels” based on the location of the hospital and the severity of the visit.
Depending on the reason you were admitted, there may be an opportunity to argue that you were charged a level 5 facility fee, but should have been charged at a Level 1. These are the kinds of negotiation that can cut a bill to a fraction of the grand total line.
Ask Your Florida ER About Discounts
Another well-kept secret – most medical facilities offer a handful of discounts that can be applied to your emergency room bill. You just have to ask.
Patients should first speak to the department manager, and then the billing department, about their struggles paying. Do not be afraid to express your concerns about payment, and seek advice on what discount options may be available for patients in your situation.
Some examples of discounts include “prompt pay” discounts for people who can pay the whole bill upfront. Self-pay discounts are trending due to the soaring costs of medical insurance leaving patients without coverage, as well.
Asking for discounts may require a lot of phone calls, but be patient. Remember, courtesy is king, and you’re likely to be pleased with the payback.
Seek Help from a Florida Medical Claims Attorney
Unfortunately, the tips we mentioned above are easier said than done. It’s not easy for patients to reach the right people to talk to, much less convince them to take items off of your bill.
Even if you do receive discounts or reductions, you may still be the victim of overcharges and unlawful fees from medical providers.
Don’t let healthcare companies get away with charging you, or others, for the care that you need. Seek the advice of a Florida medical claims attorney through an initial consultation at no charge to you.
You will discover a number of routes to take when fighting overcharges from an ER visit, but it’s important that you take action as soon as possible.
You may be able to file for compensation in court, or if your case can join onto a class-action lawsuit. However, the longer you wait, the harder it may be to reach the right people for discounts, payment plans, or reductions.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.