How do you keep track of overwhelming amounts medical bills?
Have you ever had surgery and received bills from doctors that you did not even know were a part of your healthcare team? Image the number of bills you would receive with a longer illness such as cancer. When I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, one of my friends advised me to start a tracking sheet of all of the bills, especially since there are so many of the same type of visit.
There were multiple office visits, lab visits, chemo visits, and radiation visits. After a while they all start to look the same. It is also a time when the patient may not be on top of their game since they are not feeling well so this makes tracking the bills even more important. If there is a family member who offers to help with this, consider letting them.
I work in healthcare and without tracking all the various doctor visits, surgeries, procedures, and others, on a spreadsheet, I would have found it overwhelming.
This is the time you really want to understand what your health insurance covers to be prepared, so read your policy. If there is something not clear, call the health insurance company to get clarification.
5 Steps for Tracking
1.Keep a folder with all the medical bills as they come in the mail.
2. If any payments are made at the time of service, put those receipts in the folder as well.
3. Log each of these items on an excel spreadsheet.
4.When the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) comes in the mail, compare with the spreadsheet and bill to see what the patient’s portion is.
-The patient portion can be a result of a co-insurance, co-pay or the deductible.
5.Staple the bills from the doctors, hospitals, etc. to the EOB to keep together in the file.
-Hold on to these documents as a reference as sometimes you or your insurance has made a payment on your bill, but due to timing, the bill that you get from the doctor, etc. may not reflect a recent payment.
-I recommend checking to see when it was paid by the insurance or the patient and then call the doctor, etc. to verify that they received the payment about 1-2 weeks later.
–Explanation of Benefits -also called EOB: form sent from health insurance plan that shows what was paid by the insurance company, what discount was applied and what the patient portion is.
–Co-insurance: the % portion of the medical costs that the patient pays.
–Co-payments – also called co-pay: the portion of medical costs that the patient pays. It is generally a fixed dollar.
–Deductible: the portion of the medical costs that the patient pays before insurance starts paying. It generally has to be met each year.
–Premium: the amount of money the health insurance plan costs.
The % of co-insurance and dollar amount for the co-pay and deductible varies for every insurance plan. Some companies offer different plans with different dollar amounts, etc. The premium amount that is due also varies.
These are the items I included in my excel spreadsheet. Feel free to adjust yours as needed.
–Date– date of visit/procedure
–Vendor – example Hospital ABC, Dr. ABC, etc.
–Reason for Visit – example Surgery, Medical Oncologist, etc.
–Total Charge – from bill or EOB
–Payment at Time of Service – receipt of payment if anything was paid the day of the visit/procedure
–Insurance Payment – from EOB
–Insurance Discount – from EOB
–Patient Responsibility – from EOB
–Patient Responsibility Left to Pay – Total patient responsibility from EOB less payment at time of service.
–Patient Payment after Visit/Procedure – after the EOB and bill is compared and it is deemed this is the correct amount.
–Date Paid – Patient payment after visit/procedure
–Comments – include notes like co-pay or paid remaining amount, etc.
When a bill is received and the doctor does not sound familiar, google the name. Many times this may be the radiologists, anesthesiologist, or pathologist that are reading and interpreting tests behind the scenes as part of the healthcare team.
The insurance payment + insurance discount + patient responsibility should equal the total charge of the bill.
So if you or someone you know is diagnosed with a long illness, start a folder to keep all the medical bills and EOBs together. Read up on the medical insurance to know what your plan will pay for. Compare the EOBs and the statements from the healthcare providers to be sure they match regarding what the patient responsibility is. Allow enough time for the healthcare providers to post payments, but if there is a big delay, call them to discuss what was paid and when.