Why I often Give Away my Advice for Free

Here’s a great post from the Self-Pay Patient blog:

I’ve written about medical bill negotiators in the past, but I don’t know that I’ve specifically described CoPatient and how they work. The process as described on their web site is pretty straightforward and has one helpful service that I’ve not seen before from a medical bill negotiator. Here’s how they describe their services after people create an account and submit their bills:

  1. Organize all your paperwork. We match your provider bills to your EOBs. You get access to a consolidated view of all your bills.
  2. Review your bills and insurance coverage. We use technology. industry know-how and knowledge generated from other consumers like you to uncover the many errors that happen in medical billing.
  3. Provide you with a report. You can then go in and see a nice snapshot of what you owe and what we think you can save.
  4. Get the errors fixed and recoup or lower your expenses. We fight insurance denials and negotiate your doctor and hospital bills. We have the experience and relationships to do this and you don’t have to spend all day on the phone. We charge a small percentage of what you save as a fee.

One of the interesting things about CoPatient is that they provide you with a report before you pay anything, meaning if someone wants to they can use the information to try to negotiate a discount on the bill themselves. They address this in their ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section:

Are you concerned the individuals will take the free audits and contact providers or payers directly? Our goal is to create an environment where consumers take a larger role in their healthcare management, and that starts by understanding medical billing. Our philosophy is that if a consumers shares their medical bills with CoPatient — which in turn helps our system grow smarter and faster — then we want to give them something of value in return. Some consumers may want to take action on that data, and we encourage them to fight for what is fair and accurate. However, others opt-in to our appeal service to let our Billing Advocates make the phone calls, send the letters and follow-up with their providers and health plans to fix errors and overcharges.

Needless to say, ‘free’ is a pretty good price for such a valuable report! But the thing that really caught my eye was the fact that CoPatient will also review patients insurance coverage and appeal adverse decisions by insurers to deny payment.

In the modern world of bureaucratic medicine, there are few more frustrating experiences than having medically necessary treatment denied by an insurer. Having someone like CoPatient to help navigate the insurance appeals process seems like a terrific option for self-pay patients who do have some form of insurance!

Similarly, the more a 401(k) plan sponsor shares with me, the more I learn about the industry – which helps me grow smarter and faster – so I want to give them something of value in return.  Some plan sponsors may want to take action on the advice I provide and use it to negotiate a better arrangement with their existing providers, and I encourage them to fight for what is best for themselves and their participants.  However, others decide to engage my services and either have me deal with their existing providers or recommend new providers.

In the modern world of bureaucratic 401(k) plans, there are few more frustrating experiences than having to ask your service providers what you are paying them and then having to hire a consultant just to understand their response!  It’s like someone picking your pocket and then selling you back your own watch – after breaking it – and then providing a manual that only a watch expert can understand .  Having someone who actually acts as your advocate seems like a terrific option for plan sponsors who would otherwise be in the dark.

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