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NICU bill installment plan: That'll be $45,843 a month for 12 months, please

Victoria Knight, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

The Takeaway: Much of our fragmented health care system is on autopilot, with billing software that generates confusing or, in this case, absurd bills and payment plans.

Bisi Bennett did everything right: She chose an in-network hospital and informed it of the changes to her health insurance. She followed up when she saw there was an error. But her case didn’t reach a resolution until a reporter called on her behalf.

If you are fighting a bill that you believe contains an error, call all the entities involved — the hospital, insurers, other providers — and don’t forget about your company’s human resources department. It may be able to pressure insurers to resolve an error faster than you can.

Most states have a department of consumer services that can help you file a complaint with the appropriate oversight entity. Staff members at state agencies can help you figure out what is going on. Tell the medical providers you are reporting them to the state.

Still, it is a frustrating, uphill battle, especially when patients have improper bills hanging over their heads for many months and are at risk of having the bills sent to a collection agency or having their credit score dinged. There should be far more transparency in billing and a set time limit for dispute resolution, experts say.

 

“This shows how little leverage or power a patient has in this situation,” Fuse Brown said. “You almost have to go outside the system and put external pressure.”

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Bill of the Month is a crowdsourced investigation by KHN and NPR that dissects and explains medical bills. Do you have an interesting medical bill you want to share with us? Tell us about it!

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