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What We've Learned So Far - Tip #1: Organize Your Hospital Bills

Friday, June 25, 2010

While we have not been doing this long, we have already learned alot about raising a child with special needs.  We felt it might be useful for us to write down tips we have learned about raising a child with special needs (more specifically, a child with Cystic Fibrosis) to share with others.  We have much yet to learn but here's what we've learned so far:

What We've Learned About Raising A Child With Special Needs #1: Organize Your Hospital Bills

Three hospitals, two surgeries, a 39 day NICU stay and doctor visits nearly weekly have taught us alot about dealing with hospital bills.  Here are our tips regarding organizing:

1.) Keep everything!  
Every bill/letter from the insurance company and hospital is important. 

2.) Keep a call log.  
Every time you all the doctor/hospital about a bill or your insurance company, keep track of the date, the number you're calling, why you are calling, the person's name (or number) that you're talking to and the outcome of the phone conversation.  If someone is supposed to follow up with you, write the date of your next intended phone call.

3.) It "pays" to wait when it comes to paying doctor/hospital bills. 
We want to pay the correct amount and what we owe.  But sometimes, that takes a while to sort out.  Do not pay a bill until you are 100% insurance has paid their part correctly.  We have been billed both an incorrect amount and also an an amount that insurance should have paid for.  Therefore, we delay paying doctor/hospital bills until we are confident the remaining balance is accurate and is, in fact, the patient's responsibility.

4.) Pay attention to all medical bills. 
Misbilling does happen.  Look over every bill and don't be afraid to call and ask questions.  We sometimes ask for an itemized bill.

5.) Use folders to organize.
For our organizing purposes, we made four folders: one for the incoming medical bills, one for EOBs from the insurance company, one for bills that need to be paid and one for completely paid bills.  Every time a medical bill comes in, we look in our EOB (Explanation of Benefits) folder to see if there is a corresponding EOB for the bill.  If not, we put the bill in the "incoming medical bill" folder.  If so, we staple the bill and EOB together and stick it in the "needs to be paid" folder.  Once paid, we put it in the "completely paid bills" folder.  On a weekly basis, we look in each folder and evaluate what we're missing, such as bills with no EOBs or EOBs with no bills.  We also spend time looking to make sure our insurance has paid everything correctly.  Lastly, we look to make sure any outstanding bills have been paid.

Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic illness so we know we will deal with medical bills for the rest of our life.  We'd love to hear other ideas of how to organize this special needs issue!

2 Responses to “What We've Learned So Far - Tip #1: Organize Your Hospital Bills”

  1. As a benefits person, I have to say you have all the steps down perfectly. I wouldn't tell you to do anything differently. I use a similar organizing method w/ my pregnancy bills, but I use a 3-ring binder so it's easier to flip through. Everything is in chronological order and easy to find!

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  2. I can't imagine how many bills you must have. I was overwhelmed with the amount that a normal delivery and a 7 day NICU stay for an otherwise healthy baby generated.

    With C we got the NICU records to match up to hospital bills. I was charged for medicines she didn't receive and services that I didn't receive either. In the end we settled with the hospital for less than what they were billing us for (after insurance charges) and while that was a bit difficult it was well worth fighting for and saving nearly 3,000.00.

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