Hospital Survival Guide

Paying the Bill

Connolly says complicated hospital billing systems are simply overwhelming. "Each piece of equipment, each service is generally delivered by a different person 24 hours a day," he says. A billing clerk attempts to decipher the hurriedly scribbled notes and numbered stickers representing each action.

This convoluted system shows the value of using your personal hospital diary and the daily billing statement to ease your own translation of the hospital bill.

Not paying for services you didn't use may sound like a no-brainer, but accounting errors can sometimes add other patients' charges onto your bill. Also, fees are typically imposed for every professional who enters your hospital room, but not necessarily deducted if you don't use the service offered, such as physical therapy. If an X ray is ever unusable or a blood test contaminated, the hospital--not you--should pay for taking another one.

Remember, it's the little things that mean a lot--of money.

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