Volume 1 Number 29
July 19, 2004



TALLAHASSEE—Navigating through medical bills can be a daunting task, and watching costs pile up is frustrating.  But Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher said consumers have more control than they may think.

“Many factors contribute to rising health care costs, ” Gallagher said.  “One that each of us can have a hand in controlling is billing errors.  One keystroke error can cost hundreds of dollars.  ”

Learning to decipher health care provider bills can be a formidable undertaking, but one approach consumers can take is to look for areas where overcharges and errors most commonly occur.  Gallagher urges Floridians to follow these tips:

·         Keep a log of all medical visits and include a description of treatment rendered and medications prescribed.  This will help you to verify dates and better coordinate care among physicians.

·         Track and review all Explanations of Benefits (EOBs) that you receive from your insurance carrier to ensure services billed were provided.

·         Check for duplicate billing to make sure you haven't been charged twice for the same service, supplies or medications.  

·         For hospital bills, ensure admission and discharge dates are listed accurately.  If you were in a semi-private room, make sure you're not being charged for a private room.  Make sure you are not billed for cancelled procedures.  Verify operating-room time and review prescriptions. If your doctors prescribed a generic drug, make sure you’re not billed for a brand-name drug.

Gallagher served as co-chairman of the Governor’s Task Force on Access to Affordable Health Insurance, which made many of the recommendations included in the Affordable Healthcare for Floridians Act, which became effective July 1.  The law will provide increased access to healthcare insurance by creating a more stable and competitive market, raise the quality of care and patient safety and improve transparency by giving consumers the information they need to make the best healthcare choices.  Among the new options are health savings accounts (HSAs), which operate like Individual Retirement Accounts, allowing people to save their own money in a tax-free account for use on health care costs.

“We have heard from so many hardworking individuals and small employers who are struggling to obtain, and even maintain, health insurance, because of rising costs," Gallagher said.  “Each of us can help greatly by exercising our power to control our own costs.  If we all do our part, the collateral effect will be lower health care costs and lower insurance premiums for all Floridians.”