Medical Billing Errors Create Significant Costs For Patients

The Denver Post reports on billing errors and the experience of Mike Dziedzic, who was charged with more than $100,000 in medical claims while caring for his dying wife because of a transposed pair of digits in a medical identification number. "Experts say there are tens of thousands more like Dziedzic across the country with strangling medical debts. Medical Billing Advocates of America, a trade group in Salem, Va., says that eight of 10 bills its members have audited from hospitals and health care providers contain errors. It's estimated that at least 3 percent of all health care spending — roughly $68 billion — is lost to fraud and billing errors annually. Some say new reform laws will only make things worse." Others say that errors occur largely because of "the complexity of deciphering bills and claims weighted down by complex codes."

"'Hospitals won't be able to afford to lower their revenues and we expect there to be more and more errors,' said Christie Hudson, vice president and chief operating officer of the medical billing trade group. ... The little-known field of medical-billing advocacy remains in its infancy, largely because there are no specific certifications or schooling necessary" (Migoya, 4/4).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.