January 18, 2008, Newsletter Issue #111: Ask For An Interpreter

Tip of the Week

If there are items you don't understand, call the billing department and your insurer, and ask them to explain. Don't accept bills that use terms like "lab fees," or "miscellaneous fees." Demand an itemization. If you don't get satisfaction from the hospital billing department—and you probably won't—appeal in writing to the hospital administrator or patient ombudsman. Most hospitals have patient advocacy programs that can help you with this.
Some hospitals adopted a Statement of Principles on Hospital Billing and Collection Practices. These hospitals are listed on www.hospitalconnect.com. What this means is the hospitals on this list offer free and discounted care to the uninsured and their policies are available and understandable. If you find that a hospital on this list is not living up to these standards, make a copy of the “statement of principles” and present it to the billing office as well as notify your state attorney general or your state consumer protection office.

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