Medical bills contain errors that cost patients billions

WCBD Staff - (WCBD) - Healthcare costs keep rising and sometimes patients are paying bogus charges on their medical bills.

Riddick Walling was Injured on the job, and now he lives with chronic pain. He is also dealing with the pain of medical bills.

"Stress on top of pain, it's going to make your pain worse," he told Rebecca Collett.

He has stacks of medical bills to manage, and many of them contain errors.

"It's very overwhelming," he described.

But's he's not alone in the fight to correct his bill. We found complaints lodged against several area hospitals and doctor offices across the state. The Department of Consumer Affairs received complaints from one patient who found a bill that was never submitted to insurance. Another identified additional charges for bills that were already paid. There were over payments and excessive charges not originally quoted to a patient

Experts tell News 2 the most common errors include:

•duplicate charges for the same service

•wrong insurance or patient information

•bills for cancelled treatments

•incorrect quantities of medication

•balanced billing

Health insurance companies paid the wrong amount for nearly one in ten medical claims, according to the AMA who estimates an additional $7 billion could be saved if insurers consistently pay claims correctly.

Patient advocate, Pat Palmer, says the problem is much worse. Palmer estimates 80 percent of bills contain errors.

"The error rate has escalated tremendously, especially in the last two or three years," she told Rebecca Collett via Skype.

She says catching the errors starts with a closer look at your bills.

"A bill you get from a medical facility is more or less a summary bill," she explained. "Everyone paying these bills have no idea what they are paying for and whether they are true and accurate."

Before you pay, request an itemized bill from your doctor. It will list every service or medication. Then you can begin to truly analyze the bill. While parts of the bill may be confusing, you can easily determine if you've been charged for the wrong medication or quantities of it. Also look for errors with services or lab work you didn't receive. If you still have questions about a name of a service, try calling the nurses station for an explanation.

"Go through the different parts of the hospital," Palmer said. "Ask questions. You are entitled to layman's terms of what those items are."

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