Archive for June, 2012

PostHeaderIcon 5 Tips for Handling Medical Claims — guest post by Erin Palmer


It can be upsetting to undergo medical treatment, but when medical bills start to arrive it’s easy to move from upset to completely overwhelmed. For families and patients, understanding how to handle medical claims can make all the difference in dealing with the financial stress and time-consuming nature of medical bills.  Consider these tips when handling medical claims:

1. Don’t wait!  Many families wait until there is an unbearable amount of medical paperwork to wade through before beginning the process.  A better way to handle medical billing is to deal with them when they arrive.  Take time to carefully read the information that is enclosed and determine if action needs to be taken.  If the letter is unclear, then immediately call the physician’s office, medical billing organization or hospital to get clarity.  Keeping up with the process is the best way to decrease the stress of medical billing.

2. It’s OK to ask.  Many patients feel intimidated and confused by paperwork that arrives in the mail.  Medical paperwork may be complex and leave patients with more questions than answers.  It is critical for patients to know that not completely understanding their billing is not a problem. It only becomes a problem when patients and their families don’t take time to ask pertinent questions. Virtually every billing statement has a customer service phone number.  Taking the time to call customer service and have questions answered is another effective practice in handling medical claims.

3. Analyze the EOB.  The EOB – or Explanation of Benefits – is one of the first pieces of information provided to a patient and their family.  Before calling the insurance company or provider, there are certain items to identify on the paperwork that will assist in determining next steps.  First, look for the name of the doctor or hospital and the date of the services provided.  The next item to identify is the total charges, noting the amount paid by insurance and the amount owed by the patient.  There should also be a section that shows contractual adjustments. This section should indicate the amount the doctors write off.

4. Know about insurance benefits.  Understanding insurance coverage will help to determine what needs to be paid and what is covered by insurance. Taking time to read the insurance booklet before medical services can help to answer questions before bills arrive.  Also, it is critical to understand the amount due for deductibles as well as co-payments or co-insurance.  To decrease the amount of bills that have to be sorted through, consider paying co-payments at the time of service and pay all bills by check or credit card so that there is a clear payment trail in case of questions later.

5. Don’t ignore bills.  No matter the situation, simply ignoring bills will not make them go away.  Whether there are unexpected bills or too much financial strain, there are ways to effectively work through the process.  The best place to start is to speak with the medical office and ask questions.  Many times, issues can be cleared up quickly and physicians are often willing to take a lower payment for services rather than receiving no payment at all.  Simply ask if there is a way to work out the billing to resolve the issues. Calling the insurance company also often yields results, either by explanation or a promise of reprocessing a claim. Taking a proactive approach, rather than ignoring the bills, will help to avoid frustrating collections calls.

Clearly, it’s upsetting to get a stack of bills while trying to heal from a major medical episode.  With these practical tips, understanding the paperwork, dealing with billing and communicating with doctors and hospitals should be much easier.

This guest post was provided by Erin Palmer. Erin writes about medical billing training programs and medical assistant degrees for US News University Directory. For more information about healthcare careers please visit