New 'medical billing advocates' claim to save you thousands on h - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

New 'medical billing advocates' claim to save you thousands on hospital stays

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Ava Simone Ava Simone
HOUSTON - Hospital bills can be stressful, especially if the cost is higher than you expected.

At 36 years old, Tiffany LeFlouria gave birth to her very first child - a little baby girl. Doctors told her she'd never be able to carry and yet it happened on Mother's Day this year. Tiny Ava Simone was born weighing barely more than five pounds.

"It was amazing to find out, one: that I'm pregnant with her, and two: to have her born on Mother's Day was the best gift ever," LeFlouria said.

But there were problems. Little Ava was born premature and had to spend 19 days in the neo-natal ICU. Tiffany was diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart defect and also spend more than two weeks in the hospital. When it was all over, even with her health insurance, Tiffany got a bill for $64,118.

"It's just overwhelming, extremely overwhelming," said LeFlouria. "Compared to my salary, this bill is about three and a half times more than what I make annually."

So what's Tiffany, a typical single mom who knows nothing about medical billing, supposed to do with a huge hospital bill like that? This is where a whole new breed of medical professionals are emerging. They're called medical billing advocates - billing experts you hire and pay to take your hospital bill, find mistakes and get it lowered for you."

"No, we do not have to pay those unbelievable fees. 80% of medical bills have errors," said Christina LaMontagne with NerdWallet.com, a company you can call for free with questions about high medical bills. NerdWallet will then set you up with a medical billing advocate in your city.

LaMontagne describes advocates as "Medical professionals who are trained to reduce your bill. You can hire them off of our website and they will bring down your bill and save you a whole lot of money."

That's what LaMontagne agreed to do for Tiffany - lower that $64,000 bill. The process could take weeks to complete.

You can find out more about NerdWallet on their website. We also found comparison costs there for surgeries at Indianapolis-area hospitals.
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