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How To Fight Back If Your Doctor Overcharges You

By: Jason Markum

I saw a study recently that said 97% of hospital bills are incorrect. And those errors are almost never in the patient’s favor. The average error, at least in this study, was nearly $1,500. Think about that for a minute… almost every bill is off by $1,500! That is incredible!

I’m not the kind of person that listens to studies or statistical data because I think you can find a study to prove just about anything and statistics to prove just about anything. But in this case, even if you don’t agree with the exact numbers in the study, anybody that’s been to the hospital knows that billing errors are quite frequent and can be quite large.

So what do you do if you find that you’ve been overcharged? The first thing you want to do is make an appointment to talk face-to-face with the actual doctor that worked on you. Your first instinct is going to be to contact the hospital administrative staff, or the billing department. But that’s the last thing you want to do because normally they don’t have any idea what services you received, only the doctor can speak to those issues.

You may be mad, but don’t go into the meeting angry. Be calm, be courteous, and be open-minded. Try to act with a little cooperation and try to keep the angry accusations down to nil, if at all possible. Doctors get sued all the time, and this makes them very wary. Don’t go into the meeting guns blazing and tossing out words like lawsuit or malpractice because this will shut the doctors communication lines down. They won’t even discuss it with you, they’ll just refer the whole thing to their attorney if you take this approach.

Instead, go into the meeting as if a good-natured mistake has been made. Review the charges on your bill with your doctor ask them to go through it line by line and explain it. Your doctor should be willing to do this, but if they just won’t budge and they aren’t open to discussion or negotiation then you must take the next step…

The next thing you want to do is contact your local or regional medical or dental Society in writing. Sometimes these organizations can set up arbitration between you and the doctor which can save you the cost of expensive legal fees if you were to sue them. Keep in mind one important thing, medical and dental Society’s work for the doctors – not you. They may be interested in “helping” if it will keep the doctors out of court, but they are more focused on that than actually helping you.

If nothing else works you may have to sue. Small claims court is a good venue for these sort of charges. You can file a small claims lawsuit without an attorney. Basically you and the doctor simply go before a judge and state your cases in ordinary language. If the doctor cannot quantify the charges on your bill, a judge may throw them right out.

No matter what, stand up for your rights. Just because they are a doctor doesn’t give them the right to take advantage of you. Be courteous but be firm and you’ll do just fine.

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