I Almost Got Stuck Paying an $890 Medical Bill -- Until I Did This

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KEY POINTS

  • I recently got stuck with a large bill for a medical test I had done in the hospital.
  • Rather than pay it, I made an important call that, for now, has me off the hook.
  • Make sure to carefully review your bill and call out any charges that seem questionable.


It's important to be vigilant when reviewing your medical charges.

Last month, I experienced an intense bout of vertigo. For hours, it felt like the room was spinning and I couldn't get my nausea under control.

Recognizing the severity of the situation, my husband took me over to the emergency room, where they conducted a series of tests before chalking the incident up to an issue with my inner ear. Meanwhile, we had to shell out money for my ER copay -- an expense I wasn't happy about but dealt with.

But about a week later, I received a bill for a medical test I'd had done in the hospital. And at $890, it wasn't a small amount. But rather than reach for my credit card and pay that bill, I made one simple move that, at least for now, means I don't have to worry about that bill at all.

It pays to be vigilant

Medical bills are a common source of debt for U.S. consumers. And often, those bills are erroneous. Sometimes, all it takes is for a provider to submit the wrong billing code, and bam -- your insurance claim is rejected, leaving you on the hook for a whopping sum.

That's what I assumed had happened in my situation. Thankfully, in the course of my ER visit, I had started to feel better at one point. When my doctor told me he wanted to do an MRI, I made a quick call to my insurance company to confirm that I didn't need to have that test preauthorized. I was told that because I was in the ER, I was good to get the test on the spot.

When I got an $890 bill for that test a week later, I knew right away that something had gone awry, and I assumed it was a matter of an incorrect billing code. Instead, when I called the MRI provider, I learned that they actually had neglected to submit a claim to my insurance company because they apparently didn't have my information on record.

How that's possible, I don't know. My husband had provided my insurance card when I was brought into the ER -- that's how they knew how much to bill me for a copay. But I guess somehow the MRI provider didn't get access to that information, even though I got the MRI right there at the hospital.

In any event, the MRI provider is now submitting that claim to my insurance company, and I have no reason to believe it won't pick up the tab. Meanwhile, I made sure to tell the MRI provider to put a note in my account to not send my bill to collections or report it as delinquent if the claim remained unresolved after 30 days. After all, I didn't want any credit score damage. I was reassured that no action along those lines would be taken given that a claim was being submitted to my insurance.

Advocate for yourself

Many people receive medical bills and just pay without looking into them. I'm really grateful I took the time to make that phone call and get that insurance claim submitted rather than fork over $890. The next time you get a medical bill that doesn't look right, do some digging to verify the charges before parting with your hard-earned money.

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