Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal is the editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, author of "An American Sickness," and is a former physician herself. Rosenthal explains why you should fight costly medical bills. Following is a transcript of the video.
Yes, you should take issue with bills that you don't agree with as you would in any other part of your life. And one thing that people should know is the bills are often so inflated and I hate to recommend doing this but providers, hospitals may agree to a lower price. You know, I had one woman who got a $40,000 bill for an air ambulance and she went to the air ambulance company and said, "I'll give you $15K" and they were like, "we'll take it," you know? So don't automatically assume that this is like every other bill in your life, that if it says you owe "X" amount of money for your mortgage of your credit card, you have to pay it, because you didn't agree to this bill in advance, right? You are getting hit with it after the fact.
Another thing is surprise medical bills, those out-of-network bills that you get hit with. Again, you know, Americans tend to be kind of good bill-paying citizens so they think, "well, I owe this so I better pay it," you know? "I should have known, maybe?" But more and more, not only should you fight those bills but you have a legal leg to stand on when you fight those bills.
More states are passing surprise billing laws so that if you went to an in-network hospital and you were treated by an out-of-network provider and were not informed of that and didn't consent to it in advance, you're not responsible for that payment, so by all means — now, the hospital probably won't offer that up to you, to say, "oh yeah, we tried to charge you for this but actually there is a low in New York state, which has one of the best laws that protects you from this. This is how you invoke that law." The hospital's not going to tell you that, you have to know it but for those of us lucky to live in New York state, I have used this. You can download the surprise medical billing form from the internet, you fill it out, absurdly in triplicate and you send it to you provider and to your insurer and you kind of washed your hands of the problem. It's not your problem anymore and the law is with you on that.
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