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Kip Tips

Take Care When Paying Medical Bills

Make sure your insurer will pick up its part of the tab.

I was about to write a check to pay for a medical bill when I realized that I probably didn't owe the amount shown on the invoice.

The bill was for a health screening that was performed in late May. I provided my health insurance card at the time of test. But I had a feeling that the lab that actually analyzed the screening samples hadn't bothered to submit its claim to my insurance company before sending me a bill. That's because the bill arrived shortly after the test was done, and I hadn't received a statement from my insurance company that a claim had been submitted.

All of this sunk in as I was about to put pen to paper. So I picked up the phone, called the lab and asked whether it had attempted to get my insurance company to pay for the procedure. "No," the customer service representative said. Just as I thought.

So before you pay a medical bill, make sure the claim has been submitted to your insurance company. Don't ignore the bill -- you don't want credit collectors knocking on your door. Just make a quick call to the medical facility that sent the bill or to your insurer to find out whether you're really on the hook for the full amount.

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