Have medical bills in collections and they shouldn't be? I've got the 5 tools you have in your arsenal – from least aggressive to move aggressive – in order to solve your problem.
For the first 7 months of this year, I was in battle to dispute a medical bill.
Not just any medical bill – one that was totally erroneous.
I guess it didn’t start out that way, but it progressed to me cringing at thinking about going to the mail box (so I would only check it once a week), and delaying doctor checkups for myself (a losing proposition at best).
And the kicker is, the medical bill I was battling? Was for a preventative care appointment for my son. You know, the type of appointment that’s 100% covered under any insurance plan.
See why I said it was totally erroneous?
Psst: Want to get the exact medical bill resolution letter that got us out of $1,097 in medical debt, after battling for 7 months? Click here.
If you’re dealing with a medical bill that is completely wrong – either incorrect charges, or something like ours where we should not have received one in the first place – then I’ve got you covered.
I’ve listed these tools from what you should start with (least aggressive) all the way up to the “big gun” tools that you can use to aid you in your fight.
Tool #1: Politeness with a Hint of Charm
No, not kidding. And yes, I realize how hard it is to be extremely polite and diplomatic when you’re an angry victim.
I have found – through dealing with a ton of customer service issues over the years (including how the heck to get through to a live person) – that being polite gets you Fievel-Goes-West far.
In my experience, it’s the reason why a rep might personally follow up with you on an issue, or might stick their neck out for you, or might give you a nugget of information no one else shared that will blow your case wide open.
It’s a tool, use it wisely.
Tool #2: Billing Department Manager
If you are getting nowhere with the employees from the billing department, then you should next ask to speak with their manager. This is common practice in customer service, and works in insurance/doctor’s offices as well.
You’ll likely be put on hold while the situation is explained to the manager, and you may even need to wait for someone to give you a call back.
Did you get through to the manager? Be sure to ask for her/his name, phone number, and to follow-up with you on any actions they said they will take on your behalf during the phone conversation.
Tool #3: Patient Liaison Officer
Did that manager not give you a satisfactory outcome…or did they give you the runaround?
Your next best bet is a Patient Liaison Officer. This is someone who goes above even the manager in the billing department (could be called something different within the clinic/hospital/etc. that you’re dealing with).
No one bothered to tell me one existed when I was in my 7-months long battle. So, if nothing else, ask someone you speak with in the billing department if someone exists within their organization to help facilitate issues on your behalf (hint: they’ll be more apt to tell you if you used Tool #1 when dealing with them).
You can also, of course, google it as well.
Once I found out this position existed, I immediately sat down and wrote them a letter (there was no phone number or email available for them). I followed their instructions exactly, including the information they asked for.
Then I sent my letter off. Luckily for us (didn’t feel so lucky after 7 months), within 6 days they cleared us of the debt we owed.
Hint: Get the exact letter, plus a breakdown of why it worked, that I sent into the Patient Liaison Officer to clear our account of $1,097. You could say it’s the $1,097 Medical Bill Resolution Letter. You could also use the government’s complaint letter wizard to help you fill out everything as efficiently as possible.
Tool #4: Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) exists to help consumers solve problems in the marketplace when their complaints aren’t being answered.
So why not use them for healthcare/insurance issues as well? That is, if you can’t solve the issue within the organization itself.
You can bet I was very close to submitting a complaint with the BBB. In fact, if my letter to the Patient Liaison Officer had not worked, that’s exactly what I would have spent my time doing.
The BBB attempts to close all complaints (i.e. deal with them) within 30 business days. Not bad!
Their process looks something like this:
- Submit your complaint to the BBB.
- The BBB forwards your complaint materials to the company within 2 business days.
- Receives a response from the company, or if not, the BBB resubmits the request.
- You’re notified of any results, whether the company responds or doesn’t.
Tool #5: Insurance Commissioner for Your State
Still not receiving help or a suitable answer to your complaint? If you’re here, then you’ve exhausted all other possibilities.
It’s time to take it to the top. That is, if the problem rests with your insurance company.
For us? The problem was actually with the doctor’s billing strategies. So, contacting the insurance commissioner of Texas would not have helped.
If your problem deals with your insurance company, then know that there is an insurance commissioner in each state to help with bad insurance issues you’re dealing with and who may be able to help you.
Find your Insurance Commissioner, by state and contact them with the details of your case.
- How your insurance claim was handled
- How your insurance policy is laid out
- If you think your insurance company is breaking the law or has broken the law
Hint: Again, my $1,097 Medical Bill Resolution Letter will help you in your communications with the Insurance Commissioner’s office.
One final piece of advice that I personally experienced: you will likely keep talking to new people each time you call into your doctor’s billing department and/or your insurance company. This can be extremely frustrating, as you have to re-explain the situation + hope that the last five people included good notes within their computer system.
So it’s super important that you keep records of your conversations, the names of people that you talk with, and what they said they would do for you. Be your own advocate!