What does the perfect hospital bill look like?
Becker's Hospital Review asked the question and the answer is unambiguous: A perfect bill is clear, contains relevant information and consolidates all charges from different providers.
Unfortunately, that is not what the bulk of Americans currently receive in the mail after a hospital visit. Instead, the bill often arrives weeks, if not months, after the patient received treatment. Bills can come from multiple providers. And they're often riddled with errors. That has prompted many patients to hire healthcare advocates to navigate the thickets of sometimes conflicting bills to actually determine what they owe, the Los Angeles Times reported.
It wasn't always that way. Even as recently as the late 1960s, a maternity bill from a hospital would contain a single line, and adjusted for inflation, could be as little as $1,500. By contrast, maternity services at a hospital these days could be as much as $37,000.
Tomer Shoval, CEO of Simplee, a California-based software company that provides billing services for providers, told Becker's that the perfect bill is sent in a timely fashion, is error-free and contains information that a consumer can both understand and use.
Patients should also have the option of multiple ways to pay the bill, whether by check, credit card, or online via computer, tablet or smartphone.
However, the variety of interests involved in getting paid for medical services rendered--including the hospital, physicians and ancillary providers--is likely to pose an obstacle toward creating the perfect hospital bill, according to Becker's.