‘The Numbers On Every Hospital Or Doctor Bill Are Straight-up Fake’: Patient Says Hospital Bill Was Cut By $3k After Asking For Receipts

A TikToker claims his medical bill was slashed by 76% after he asked the hospital for an itemized list of charges.

“Tell me why my hospital bill went from $4,000 to $950 all because I asked for a receipt and a list of everything I was being charged for,” text overlay on the video posted by Tre’jon Wilson (@oh_thats_just_trey) reads. “SMFH. They lowered my bill by 76%. Is it me or our health care system is a scam.”

The video was viewed 3.6 million times and eventually stitched by Adam Conover, former host of Adam Ruins Everything and current host of The G Word. He is known for providing in-depth explanations about some systems, both in the U.S. and globally.

“Oh yeah, I can tell you exactly why this happened,” Conover says in his stitch, which has been viewed nearly 7 million times. “It’s because the numbers on every hospital or doctor bill are straight-up fake and made up. If you have insurance, your hospital has to negotiate with the insurance company for the price of the services. They set these super high ridiculous numbers as a starting point for that negotiation. The insurance company says, ‘Bullshit, we’re paying you a third of that.’ They haggle a bit and decide on a number.”

Conover says that the “fucked up part” is that if a patient does not have insurance, they are still presented with the padded bill, and it is up to them to negotiate it. “So you could easily end up paying three, five, even 10 times what the procedure actually costs,” he says.

However, he notes there are some nonprofits called medical billing advocates that will negotiate a bill on behalf of the patient.

According to Medliminal, which was cited in a report by CNBC, out of the bills it reviewed, 25% of the charges are not even billable. Many reports on how to negotiate a hospital bill suggest first asking for an itemized bill to make sure the charges are accurate. Some reports also stress not to pay a cent of the bill until negotiations are complete. And even after negotiations are complete, most healthcare providers are open to the patient getting on a payment plan so that they don’t’ have to pay the bill at once.

Viewers weighed in with their own experiences and tips on how to successfully negotiate a medical bill. Even a viewer who claimed to be a medical biller urged those reading the comments section to “always ask for an itemized statement.”

“Always. As a medical biller, I cringe when correct [explanation of benefits],” they emphasized.

“Another tip for the medical bill is to ask for an itemized bill,” one commenter wrote. “(A) lot (of) times it’ll cut your price in half because there’s laws on what they can charge.”

“Cancer and Transplant patient here. Bill negotiating has become my life. it is exhausting,” another said.

One viewer claimed they simply ignored their $3,500 medical bill until it went down to $75. Another claimed that after they asked for a detailed receipt of their hours-long hospital stay, their bill went from $10,500 to $273.

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