hospital billsBy Amanda Buchanan

High hospital costs seem to be a fact of life that most Americans have reluctantly come to accept. What most people don't realize, however, is that not all of those charges are legit -- and in fact, many medical bills contain fraudulent charges.

In 2010 alone, Medicare and Medicaid paid an estimated $70 billion in improper hospital payments, according to a 2011 Government Accountability Office study. But it's not just nameless, faceless bureaucratic entities getting hit up for costs they shouldn't have to pay.

Brett Goldstein, author of The Retirement Crisis, started questioning his hospital bills after his daughter underwent a minor procedure that left him with unreasonably high bills. After digging into it, he realized he was being cheated in more ways than one.

Goldstein's experience can be used to help others make sure they're not being overcharged for medical care. Here are red flags to watch for the next time you get billed:





Amanda Buchanan is a contributing writer for The Motley Fool.


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fancy678

Does the person who wrote this article that most hospitals do not send an itemize bill if you have insurance but only a final bill with what insurance covered and what you owe.People should know there is a person at the hospital that does audits of what someone is charge and that is where you can find out if you are over charge some states if this found to be frequent in an area they will pull all of the hospital records and if violations found will end up closing down. I had my husband in the hospital in 2004 and had an audit done and there was a $10 thousand dollar over charge for procedures and medicine he didn't get so anyone who reads this remember you can ask for an audit and what the results where do not let them tell you they can't give you an itemize bill it is the law

February 20 2012 at 11:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fancy678

Does the person who wrote this article that most hospitals do not send an itemize bill if you have insurance but only a final bill with what insurance covered and what you owe.People should know there is a person at the hospital that does audits of what someone is charge and that is where you can find out if you are over charge some states if this found to be frequent in an area they will pull all of the hospital records and if violations found will end up closing down. I had my husband in the hospital in 2004 and had an audit done and there was a $10 thousand dollar over charge for procedures and medicine he didn't get so anyone who reads this remember you can ask for an audit and what the results where do not let them tell you they can't give you an itemize bill it is the law

February 20 2012 at 10:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fancy678

Does the person who wrote this article that most hospitals do not send an itemize bill if you have insurance but only a final bill with what insurance covered and what you owe.People should know there is a person at the hospital that does audits of what someone is charge and that is where you can find out if you are over charge some states if this found to be frequent in an area they will pull all of the hospital records and if violations found will end up closing down. I had my husband in the hospital in 2004 and had an audit done and there was a $10 thousand dollar over charge for procedures and medicine he didn't get so anyone who reads this remember you can ask for an audit and what the results where do not let them tell you they can't give you an itemize bill it is the law

February 20 2012 at 10:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Don Collins

wife had piece of steak caught in throat, cost 2300.00

February 14 2012 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sue

I had, and say had a Dr. who sent me in for an stress test . He was 30 minutes late, so I had to sit and wait for the jerk. Finally did the jerk shows up. I'm on the treadmill. My bloodpressure went through the roof, the jerk says why is my pressure so high, then has the gall to ask WHY I had the test done! NOT his patient anymore, oh and I had other health problems for quite sometime the jerk didn't pick up. Oh and loved to throw different meds at you, see he had drug reps coming in on a revolving door, so too many red flags for me.

February 14 2012 at 10:50 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sue's comment
d17527

"Oh and loved to throw different meds at you, see he had drug reps coming in on a revolving door, so too many red flags for me."
After about 15 years of living in what seemed to be less expensive Pennsylvania, as a doctor's daughter I realized that I have not seen a single honest doctor since I arrived. I had your experience (in quotes above) with the first rural clinic of thirteen doctors in practice together and I stopped when realizing that there are a few too many drug companies actually located here which is why the drug reps were all too frequently observed when I had a doctor's apointment. They came in breezing through with their case of goodies and dressed sexily in an understated way while promising him travels where ever you could imagine.. It was at least a year or more before I caught on when taking my own blood pressure to keep tabs on it and compare with his records that he was over estimating what my limits should be. I was dumbfounded; because it was on this basis that he got away with prescribing the gradually increasing additional medications until he was just short of taking my whole social security payment in the Clinton era.

Noticeably, nobody in this Republican backwater is willing to actually give a recommendation of another actual doctor when telling you that you should have such and such a procedure taken care of and I found this rather odd that their is no physician,opthamologist, or dentist who will accredit another in practice when that current doctor tells you that he thinks you should see someone for a second opinion or to do further work that he himself does not perform in his practice.,
This of course leaves no doubt in my mind why Obama is accomplishing while the opposition is floundering. He doesn't tell his constituents to go see another President with more experience in some facet of politics that he hasn't experienced. Simple as that. It is a much healthier situation than the opposition party has been presenting to us in their inability( as complete yahoos ) to accomplish anything.

February 18 2012 at 2:02 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tadyer2336

i will side with the muslims.

Pres . B H OB

February 14 2012 at 10:39 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
dmsbjs

The biggest sign that your hospital is robbing you is that they sent you a bill. Betcha can't find one without mistakes in their favor.

February 14 2012 at 10:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Lakhee Aulakh

DOCTORS IN AMERICA ARE ON GET RICH QUICK SCHEME . THINK ABOUT ALL THE OTHER DOCTORS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES WORKING AS HARD AS AMERICAN DOCTORS BUT MAKING AVERAGE INCOME. IT IS NOT A HUMANE PROFESSION ANYMORE IT IS MORE LIKE BUSINESS TO RIP SICK PEOPLE. SO THEY CAN BUY BIGGER HOUSES AND EXPENSIVE CARS AND HAVE TAX DEDUCTION FOR THEIR MERCEDES BECAUSE THEY USE IT FOR BUSINESS. THEY CANNOT USE A BASIC CAR . I HAD LOT OF RESPECT FOR THIS PROFESSION BUT NOT ANYMORE I THINK THEY ARE CRIMINALS IN UNIFORM SPECIALLY DOCTORS WHO IN THIS BUSINESS JUST TO MAKE MONEY I HAVE MORE RESPECT FOR DOCTORS LIKE DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS

February 14 2012 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
voodooqueen

My Friend Took Her To Emergency Room She Got to Feeling Better & the Line Was long So They Left & did Not Even Get Into A ER ROOM ITSELF & NO DOCTOR LOOKED @ HER & EVEN THOUGH MEDICARE WAS SUPPOSE TO PAY FOR IT SHE CALLED & TOLD THEY CHARGED HER FOR ER ROOM, URINE TEST, BLOOD WORK & DOCTORS VISIT. ALL WELFARE SHOULD HAVE TO GO TO CHARITY HOSPITAL THEY WOULD INCREASE THE REVENUE SO EVERYONE WOULD HAVE SAME MEDICAL TREATMENT, INSTEAD THEY GET TO GO TO EXPENSIVE DOCTORS & HAVE LOTS OF TEST & OPERATIONS THAT ARE UNNECESSARY. IT IS NOT FAIR THAT WE R SPENDING THE MONEY ON EXPENSIVE VISITS & DOCTORS WHEN CHARITY HOSPITALS COULD BE ESTABLISHED & OWNED BY THE GOVERNMENT WHICH WOULD COST ALOT LESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

February 14 2012 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to voodooqueen's comment
fancy678

some one should turn them in for medicare fraud

February 20 2012 at 11:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vote Smart!

Here's my favorite -- being charged a "facility fee," which is basically being charged to sit in the room you're examined in. My question is always this: "Will you reduce or eliminate the fee if the reason I'm in there so long is because the doctor is an hour late?"

February 14 2012 at 10:28 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply