Medical Bills 101

As if the symptoms of COPD are not enough to deal with on their own, you also have to deal with medical bills and insurance companies.  Just when it seems that your loved one is beginning to make some progress after that last flare-up or hospital visit, the bills start coming in, and there are just no nice words to say about the kind of confusion that is caused by medical bills.  If you do not keep the bills organized, it will be easy to get behind on one and find yourself in collections.

Here are a few basics for navigating through your medical bill.

1.  Double check the charges.

If your loved one was admitted to the hospital for a procedure, you may receive bills from two or three different offices.  Make sure that charges are not duplicated.  Also, check the charges that you receive for your medical supplies.  Make sure that your insurance and/or Medicare is paying correctly.

You should receive an EOB or Explanation of Benefits from your insurance provider.  It is important to check the charges listed on this EOB compared to the bill that you received.  Sometimes there is a discrepancy, and most times the amount will be adjusted after the insurance has been filed.

2.  Organize the bills in folders.

It is so easy for bills to be misplaced or thrown in the trash, if they are not properly filed.  Find a system that works for you and stick to it.  Maybe you will organize the bills by the office name or doctor's name, or maybe organizing them by month works better for you.  Either way, you are moving that piece of paper to a place with purpose.  It will give you a sense of accomplishment by just organizing them.  Sometimes just that simple sense of accomplishment goes a long way in getting a handle on all of the bills.

3.  Stamp or write "PAID" on the final bills, as you pay them off.

After you have written "paid" on the bill, you could shred the bills leading up to the final, but I believe that it is important to keep the record of that paid bill for a while.  It might be a good idea to wait through the insurance year, maybe even longer, depending on your medical debt.  It is also important to write down the method of payment and check number or confirmation number for the final payment.  This will be helpful if you receive any phone calls about medical bills.  Having that proof in your hand will give you the information that you need to dispute any wrong charges.

I know that these are the bare basics, the minimums for keeping up with your bills, but when you are dealing with so much with COPD, sometimes a reminder of the basics is good.  Remember the old saying, "you eat an elephant, one bite at a time."  It will be easy to get overwhelmed.  Take it one bill at a time, and you will conquer them all.

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