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Appealing surprise charges on medical bills

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you have private medical insurance, you may have noticed some charges that seem to appear on your bill out of nowhere. And you may not know that you can actually fight those charges.

Jeremy Weintraub said he had expected to go home with a scar and some discomfort after his recent hernia surgery – but what he did not expect was a medical bill for more than $20,000.

And officials say he isn’t the only one. According to a report, nearly one in three Americans with private insurance have been hit with surprise medical bills.

Consumer attorney Betsy Imholz said the most common charges are for treatments or services that weren’t preformed. She said sometimes bills are higher than expected, or in Jeremy’s case, charged at an out-of-network rate.

At the time, Jeremy said the hospital assured him that his procedure would be “in” network. When it wasn’t, he was left with two options: to pay or to appeal.

Imholz said that most patients end up paying the bill in full because they don’t know they can file an appeal.

The study found that only three-percent of patients ended up contacting a nonprofit or consumer assistance organization.

Ultimately, Jeremy said he did make a complaint and his bill was forgiven — but advocates say they need more complaints to truly fix the problem.

If you have extra charges on a medical bill and would like to know if you can appeal them in your state, click here.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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