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Dealing with Multiple Health Insurance Bills and Inaccurate Medicare Information

Appendix A: Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Health Insurance Page 4

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Question 7:

I have a traditional health insurance plan. I was in the hospital a few weeks ago for surgery, and I'm now receiving a number of bills from the doctors who treated me, including the surgeon and other medical specialists. I was in the hospital many years ago, and I don't remember getting more than one bill. Why am I getting so many bills? In addition, I gave the hospital all of my insurance information. I don't understand why the bills are being sent to me rather than to my insurance company.

Answer:

Years ago, hospitals often took care of filing bills both for the use of hospital facilities and for doctors' services. Those bills were generally sent directly to the patient's insurance company. These days, hospitals generally send only the bill for the use of hospital facilities to the insurer. Each doctor provides a separate bill for his services. Although you gave your insurance information to the hospital when you were admitted, that information may not have been shared with the doctors who provided treatment, even though they work at the hospital.

Question 8:

I've been covered by Medicare for a number of years. My claims have generally been handled without major difficulty, until recently. Now, Medicare insists that I'm no longer entitled to coverage because my husband -- who, in fact, died a number of years ago -- is covered by a health insurance plan I've never heard of. What can I do?

Answer:

Medicare obtains information from a variety of sources, including other government agencies. Unfortunately, that information is not always accurate. The first step in a situation such as this is to write to your Medicare carrier (the address in on your EOMBS, the Explanation of Medicare Benefits Statement). If that does not resolve the problem, you'll need to file a Medicare appeal (the instructions are on the EOMBS). If that does not lead to a resolution of the problem, you can seek help from an organization such as the Medicare Rights Center, the United Seniors Health Cooperative, or the counseling service run by your state Department of Insurance or state Division on Aging.

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