About Hospital Billing Procedures

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After a visit to the hospital, whether a planned visit or an emergency one, most people have questions regarding hospital billing procedures. Although each hospital may have its own procedures, some hospital billing services are provided as a general rule by all hospitals.

Upon release, the patient should receive a copy of the bill. If not, a copy of the bill will be received in the mail within a few weeks. The statement will indicate that it is not a bill and for informational purposes only.

If a patient has insurance, the insurance carrier will be billed directly for the services provided. If there is a co-pay, some hospitals will require it to be paid at the time of registration. Others will bill the patient for the co-pay after they receive payment from the insurance company and receive confirmation of the co-pay amount. The insurance company may also send an invoice indicating the amount to be paid by the patient for fees and services not covered by the insurance company.

If a patient does not have insurance, payment arrangements will need to be made beforehand for planned admissions, and at the time of registration for emergencies. Hospitals accept cash, check, money orders or credit cards. Most hospitals are willing to work out payment plans with patients unable to pay the full amount and many have financial aid services available. The admissions staff can also assist a patient in determining whether they qualify for a government-sponsored program or payment assistance program that may cover all or some of the expenses.

Physician billing is for professional services and/or procedures performed by the doctor. This is separate from the hospital billing, which is for costs such as the operating room, patients room and overhead costs. Separate bills are generally sent from the physician and the hospital for inpatient and outpatient visits. In addition, each physician, such as a cardiologist, anesthesiologist, or radiologist, would prepare and send a separate bill. These will also be processed separately by the insurance company.

Hospital visits, whether planned or unplanned, can be scary and expensive and billing can be confusing. However, the hospital has staff that is trained to help with billing questions and can respond to any issues that may arise either before or after admission. A patient should be sure to look over all invoices related to the treatment and admission to be sure that no duplicate or incorrect charges are on the statements.

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