Thursday, March 14, 2013

Time Magazine Has Special Exposé On Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

chargemasterTime just published in its March 2, 2013 issue a very long and involved story on the ins and outs of how we are all individually and as a country being overcharged for medical care in the US. As you may know, we pay the highest amount for medical costs and are nowhere near the top as compared with other developed countries in the positive outcomes patients have.

Just to give you an example. Hospitals figure the amount to be charged for every small and large procedure and every item used in the hospital by using a coding book called the Chargemaster. That’s all well and good, but this rate is more of a highly inflated imaginary rate in that the hospitals negotiate from this amount downward for insurance companies and Medicare patients. However, this full rate is charged to people who don’t have insurance, people whose insurance doesn’t the cover procedures or people who have gone over their insurance companies limits of coverage.

These people are not told that the Chargemaster is just a starting rate and that they can negotiate down from it. The average person could wind up with a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of the Medicare rate which might be hundreds or a few thousand of dollars. Since just understanding what’s on a medical bill can be overwhelming there are now folks you can find who are medical-bill advocates. These advocates know how the system works and can potentially get an absurd bill reduced down to a more reasonable level.

When a medical emergency strikes, you or a loved one and you or they need immediate medical treatment your focus is not on the costs. If you didn’t have insurance coverage, it’s only when you get the bill that you experience extreme sticker shock. What I would suggest you do is look around to find a medical-bill advocate before you need the person. This way you can talk to them, know what they can do and how you can avoid absurd medical bills. Have them on speed dial, so in an emergency, you just need to press the button to get help. Keep in mind that around 62% of bankruptcies in this country are due to medical bills. This situation can strike anyone at any time so that the best offense is to have the advocate on your side.

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