Home » Billing » What to Do When You Get a Big Medical Bill (part 1)

Many of us fear the day when we have an unexpected medical emergency that lands us in the hospital. While some of us are lucky enough to get treatment and recover from the process, we might get hit with something that can be just as disruptive to life: a big medical bill.  We’ve heard stories from friends and family, the media, and perhaps even experienced it ourselves – a couple of weeks after going to the hospital, a bill lands on our doorstep for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. For the average American, that’s simply money that they don’t have.

We’re writing a multi-step process to help you reduce your bill down to manageable levels.

  1. Ask for an itemized bill from your provider.

80% of medical bills contain an error in them, which often leads to them overcharging you for the procedure. The first step therefore, before you begin any type of payments, is to get an itemized version of your bill so you can check it over. Here is a template to use:

Dear Sirs or Madam: I have now requested my medical records/itemized bill __________ times and have yet to receive the material. It is my right to receive these records in any form I request under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act within thirty days and for a reasonable handling and processing fee. If this material is not quickly forthcoming, I will file a complaint with the federal Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which prosecutes HIPPA violations.

This step is one of the most difficult because many places will resist, and you may have to try many times with their billing department. However, keep persisting! If after multiple phone calls and several weeks you still haven’t received an itemized bill, you can try reaching out to billing consultants, patient advocates, and lawyers that can help you with this process.

Remember: Until you get an itemized bill, you do not need to pay!