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Do’s and don’ts of fighting medical bills

Past-due medical bills are the reason 59% of Americans are contacted by a debt collector. But what happens if those charges are wrong?

You might assume the fees you receive for medical care are correct -- but one report found many as 80% of medical bills contain errors.

If you receive a bogus bill, don’t panic.

Do ask for an itemized copy that summarizes all the services. Check it over carefully and compare it to your insurance company’s explanation of benefits.

Don’t delay talking to your provider’s billing department about the fees in question.

Do contact your insurer if your bill doesn’t cover something you thought it would. Sometimes, it’s simply because the wrong code was entered.

And do file an appeal if your claim is denied.

If you aren’t able to get a bill revised, try to negotiate. One consumer report survey found 57% of people said they’d successfully negotiated down a hospital bill.

If you feel like you can’t do it alone, get a billing advocate involved to work on your behalf.

Another important tip: take good notes of all your conversations and encounters throughout the process. Get things in writing when you can. And if you’re not getting the resolution you want, you may consider seeking legal counsel.