About My Health Care Bills
This fact sheet - designed to answer questions about your health care bills - is part of South Shore Hospital’s commitment to provide quality service to its patients. If you seek further information, please call our patient accounts department at 781-624-8632.
You are likely to receive several bills for the health care you have received at South Shore Hospital. The number and types of invoices will be based on your health insurance and the care you received. Bills differ, based on your illness or condition, the number of physicians, nurses, technicians who cared for you, how long you were hospitalized, the medications you received, and the supplies that were necessary to care for you. Here are answers to questions patients frequently ask about their bills:
After my hospital visit, I received multiple bills for my care. Why can’t I receive one bill? How do I make sure the charges are not duplicated?
Your medical condition may have necessitated using outside experts (such as specialized laboratory) to provide important tests. These fees are not included on the hospital's invoice.
For example, if you were treated for a broken leg in the hospital's emergency department, you would receive bills from physicians who cared for you, such as the radiologist who examined your x-ray.
Admittedly, the names of some organizations that send you bills are similar — such as "South Shore Cardiology," "South Shore Radiology," and "South Shore Hospital." This can cause some confusion. That's why we urge you to carefully read your invoices to determine what services were provided and who is billing you for them.
Why do I get bills at all? Can't South Shore Hospital bill my insurance company?
Whenever possible, we bill your insurance company directly. But there are several reasons why the hospital might send you a bill, even when you have health insurance.
Today, most people — whether they are covered by private insurance, a health maintenance organization (HMO), or Medicare — are being asked to make a "co-payment" or to pay a "deductible." For example, a patient is asked to pay a $25 charge for an emergency room visit, or a deductible that requires you to pay a certain amount up front (for example: $500) before your health coverage is activated. Your insurer may require that you pay this portion of your bill directly to the hospital, which is why you may receive a bill that has a "balance due."
For your convenience, we make every effort to collect from your insurance company. There are times, however, when the insurance company is very late with its payments or refuses to reimburse the hospital fully. In those circumstances, we may send you your bill and ask you to speak to your insurer. We'll do everything we can to assist you, but ultimately you are responsible for the cost of your care.
Why do hospitals charge so much more for medications than my local drugstore?
The higher hospital cost of some medications reflects the expense of maintaining a secure and fully stocked pharmacy to meet patient needs 24 hours a day. Hospital staff must also spend time complying with strict federal, state, and local regulations which requires time-intensive record keeping to account for the use of controlled substances, such as pain medications.
What if there is an error on my bill?
Please call or write us if you believe an error has been made. We try to be fair and accurate in all of our billing, but if we've made a mistake, let us know right away. Call South Shore Hospital's patient accounts department at 781-624-8632 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or leave a message on the department's answering machine if calling after business hours.
What if I cannot pay my bill?
Call us. We know that at times it can be tough to come up with the money you need to pay your bill in full. South Shore Hospital's patient accounts department will work with you to suggest alternatives you can live with, such as billing the balance to your credit card, setting up monthly payments, or making other arrangements.
South Shore Hospital will provide care for all that seek it, regardless of their ability to pay. Call South Shore Hospital's financial counselors at 781-624-4329 to determine if you may be eligible for financial assistance.
What is South Shore Hospital doing to help streamline the billing process?
We are committed to working with physicians, suppliers, insurers and government agencies to improve the way our patients are billed for their care. South Shore Hospital has taken a leadership role in re-evaluating its invoicing procedures, which has already led to reductions in the number of bills sent to our patients. Click here for South Shore Hospital's credit and collection policy.
As of July 1, 2004, patients no longer receive a separate bill from emergency physicians. To make it easier for patients, charges for emergency physicians are incorporated in the bill from South Shore Hospital.
We look forward to continuing to implement the health care reforms being initiated locally, regionally and nationally.
Visit the American Hospital Association's website to see their statement of Hospital Billing and Collection Practices.