I recently reached out to Pat Palmer, the founder of Medical Billing Advocates of America. She is one of the nation’s leading experts in medical billing advocacy and has been featured on ABC, FOX, CNN, and Newsweek.
Back in the day when I began assisting patients with their medical billing issues, I watched and read everything I could that Pat Palmer was associated with. I knew she had the experience and skill set that would elevate my game, which in turn would allow me to provide better care and service to the patients.
Once I started this blog, I knew I would be reaching out to Pat to answer some questions for my audience. She is the epitome of a healthcare advocate and anyone reading, from novice to expert, will be able to immediately turn her advice into action.
TPFA: What is the most important step patients can take prior to having services done to help ensure they are billed correctly?
PP: Before having any medical service done, get a price quote from the facility you plan to use and have this quote in writing and signed by an appropriate member of staff. Make sure that the quote includes all related items and services. If you have the ability to choose from several facilities, get quotes from each and compare prices beforehand. Make sure all providers you are going to see are in network with your insurance company.
TPFA: If a patient is currently receiving letters stating they are going to collections, what would you recommend they do?
PP: If someone is in danger of having their bill sent to collections and they are in the process of disputing charges with the facility, the billing process should halt until any items in question have been resolved. For example, if a person has not paid a medical bill because they are being billed for items that they don’t agree with, that account should be frozen until that item has been investigated and removed from the bill, or until a resolution has been reached.
TPFA: What is the most common billing mistake you see that patients can look for?
PP: The most common mistakes that we see are charges for duplicate non-billable items. Duplicate non-billable items are items that are part of the cost of another charge, and can’t be billed for separately.
TPFA: Once a bill is received, what is the first thing a patient should do to ensure accurate billing?
PP: He or she should immediately request a detailed, itemized statement and scrutinize it for accuracy. Look for double billing, items and procedures never received and anything that just looks unusual. If you are unsure about a charge, question it.
TPFA: What is the biggest mistake you see patients make when handling their medical bills?
PP: The biggest mistake with medical bills is to pay from the summary bill. This is paying blindly because you do not know what you are paying for.
TPFA: What is the most frequently asked question you have received in your career?
PP: How do I dispute my medical bill?
TPFA: In your opinion, what would need to be done to fix our current billing system?
PP: The only thing making a difference is the advocacy work being done across the country and bringing bills to True and Accurate charges and Fair and Reasonable prices. Detecting fraud in the medical billing system is a must.
Until next time, good vibes always.