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Handling medical bills automatically charged to your card

Your Business Credit columnist Elaine Pofeldt

Elaine Pofeldt is a journalist whose articles on entrepreneurship and careers have appeared in Fortune, Working Mother, Money and many other publications. She is a former senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine and an entrepreneur herself, as co-founder of 200kfreelancer.com, a website for independent professionals. She writes “Your Business Credit,” a weekly column about small business and credit, for CreditCards.com.

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QuestionDear Your Business Credit,
After I signed an agreement at the medical office, they charged my credit card without notification. I just found charges on my card. Upon checking with Anthem Blue Cross about their reason for denial, I found out it is because their submitted form has the wrong information. What’s my recourse? Thanks in advance.  – Maria

AnswerDear Maria,
Ouch! Given the cost of medical care these days, any unexpected charge can be painful. 

In your situation, I would quickly contact your medical provider and ask it to submit the form with the correct information. Ask your medical provider for a copy of the form being resubmitted so you can check it over for errors. Make sure this is done within the period during which Anthem Blue Cross allows you to resubmit claims. 

You probably don’t have a copy of the form you signed authorizing the medical office to charge your card and under what circumstances, so you may want to request a copy of what you signed. This copy will help you determine what you agreed to when you signed the original.

Most of us don’t read these documents carefully and simply sign when asked to provide a credit card. If you agreed to pay any charges not covered by insurance, you permitted the medical office to put the charges on your card – even if there was an error in submitting the required forms.

Most medical offices value relationships with their patients and will help you resubmit insurance forms, if that is necessary. I recently had a situation in which a medical lab charged me more than $1,000 for a blood test. When I called my doctor’s office to find out why I was being charged such a huge amount, his team contacted the lab. The price was reduced to $160. 

If the medical office is not cooperative, then you could call your credit card issuer to complain about the charge, particularly if it looks as if the medical office did not follow the agreement you signed. This will very likely prompt the card issuer to investigate and potentially lead to a chargeback from the medical office.

Usually when a charge is under investigation, the consumer does not have to pay it until the investigation is resolved, but be sure you understand whether or not you need to pay the charge during the investigation. 

There is another option you may want to consider. Medical negotiation firms can take a look at your bill, determine if you were charged too much for the medical service and negotiate with the provider to lower the bill. You can find medical negotiation firms in your local area in internet search engines. Also check with your company’s HR department. Some companies offer access to medical negotiation services as a benefit.

If there were errors in your claim, it is possible there were errors in the coding the medical office used to submit the claim to the insurance company. A medical negotiation firm will help you deal with the situation and correct the charges so you don’t have to be the one hashing things out with the billing office at your doctor’s office.

Medical negotiation firms often charge a percentage of the dollar amount they save you, but if you just got hit with a big medical bill and a medical negotiation firm saves you a good amount of money, consider it money well spent.

See related: 5 reasons not to put medical bills on credit cardsShould a hospital add a surcharge for card transactions? 

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