|Published:||May 11, 2010 3:34 AM EDT|
|Updated:||May 11, 2010 3:34 AM EDT|
FORT MYERS, Fla- Mike Wheeler enjoys his days of retirement taking walks with his dog.
He did not think he would spend those days battling billing from his hospital.
"There's all kinds of charges on this bill that just does not make sense," Wheeler told CALL FOR ACTION.
Mike underwent rotator cuff surgery earlier this year at Lehigh Regional Medical Center.
When Mike received the $54,0000 bill, he went through the charges line by line.
Each charge made him angrier.
"They charged me for seven sheets one day at 154 dollars each and the flimsy hospital gowns they charged me for five of those in one day," said Wheeler, "I only had one of them as far as I know. And I left it at the hospital when I left. For 54 dollars I should have kept one of them."
Naples medical billing advocate Sheri Samotin says the problem is common.
"The Medical Billing Advocates of America has an estimate that eight out of ten hospital bills have errors and based on my experience I would say it's at least eight out of ten," Samotin told CALL FOR ACTION.
She says hospital bills are tricky because they use lingo that most normal people don't understand.
Here are some of the normal ways patients get overcharged:
UNBUNDLING: Your doctor uses supplies in a kit. Instead of getting charged a flat rate for the entire kit, you get charged per item.
UPSELLING: Your doctor orders a generic drug, but the hospital gives you the brand name drug that costs more.
CANCELED PROCEDURES: Your doctor orders a procedure then cancels it, but it still shows up on your bill.
DOUBLE AND TRIPLE CHARGES: On Mike's bill he was charged for 5 hospital gowns instead of one. He was also charged for seven sheets at $154.02 each--even though he only remembers having one set of sheets.
MISTAKES: The hospital simply enters the wrong code and charges you for the wrong thing.
Sheri had one client whose insurance wouldn't pay a 55 dollar bill.
"What was it? It was a pap smear. I don't know about you but I know and I bet most people know men don't get pap smears," said Sheri.
Sheri says even if you have insurance you need to look at your bill.
"Most people have deductibles and increasingly people have plans with $3000, $5000, $10,000 dollar deductibles. If you have a large bill and you don't scrutinize it you're going to pay every penny of that $10,000 deductible," advised Sheri.
Lehigh Regional Medical Center declined our request for an on camera interview about Mike's bill. Lehigh Regional says they are working with Mike.