Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, December 31, 2016

MVNews this week:  Page A:8



Mountain Views-News Saturday, December 31, 2016 



Dear Savvy Senior,

After a recent hospital stay, I have a stack of confusing 
medical bills at home I need to decipher. I’ve heard these 
bills frequently contain mistakes. How do I spot them to 
ensure I’m not paying more than I need to be?

Cautious Carol


Dear Carol,

 Medical billing errors and overcharging is not 
uncommon. According to the American Medical 
Association, 7 percent of medical bills in 2013 had 
errors, and other groups estimate that figure to be much 
higher. Unfortunately, untangling those mistakes is 
almost always up to you. Here are some tips and tools 
that can help. 


Check For Errors

 To help you get a grip on your medical bills and check 
for errors, you need to familiarize yourself with what 
your insurance does and doesn’t cover. Then you need 
to carefully review the explanation of benefits from your 
insurer, and the invoices you receive from your doctor, 
hospital and/or outpatient facility providers. 

 These invoices need to be itemized bills detailing the 
charges for every procedure, test, service and supply 
you received. If you didn’t receive an itemized invoice, 
request it from your health care providers. And if 
the invoices contain any confusing billing codes or 
abbreviations that you don’t understand, ask them for an 
explanation. You can also look up most medical billing 
codes online by going to any online search engine and 
typing in “CPT” followed by the code number.

 Once you receive and decode the invoices, keep your 
eyes peeled for these mistakes: 

 · Typos: Incorrect billing codes, a misspelled name or 
a wrong policy number.

 · Double billing: Being charged twice for the same 
services, drugs, or supplies. 

 · Canceled work: Charging for a test your doctor 
ordered, then canceled.

 · Phantom services: Being charged for services, test or 
treatments that were never received. 

 · Up-coding: Inflated charges for medications and 

 · Incorrect length of stay: Most hospitals will charge 
for the admission day, but not for day of discharge. Be 
sure you’re not paying for both.

 · Incorrect room charges: Being charged for a private 
room, even if you stayed in a semi-private room. 

 · Inflated operating room fees: Being billed for more 
time than was actually used. Compare the charge with 
your anesthesiologist’s records.

 To make sure the charges on your bill are reasonably 
priced, your insurance provider may offer an online 
price transparency tool, or use the Healthcare Blue 
Book ( or Guroo ( 
These are free resources that let you look up the going 
rate of many procedures, tests or services in your area. 


Make Corrections

 If you find errors or have questions about charges, 
contact your insurer and your health care provider’s 
billing office. When you call, be sure you write down the 
date, time and name of the person you speak to and a 
summary of the conversation, in case you need to refer 
back to it at a later time. 

 If there’s a billing code error or some other mistake 
that’s easily correctable, ask your health care provider to 
resubmit a corrected claim to your insurance company. 


Get Help

If you aren’t able to resolve the dispute on your own, you 
may want to consider hiring a medical billing advocate 
to work on your behalf. To find someone, try sites like or Most advocates charge 
an hourly fee – somewhere between $50 and $200 
per hour – for their services, or they may work on a 
contingency basis, earning a commission of 25 percent 
to 35 percent of the amount they save you. 

 If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, another resource 
is your State Health Insurance Assistance Program 
(SHIP). They provide free counseling and can help you 
understand your medical bills and Medicare coverage. 
To find a local SHIP counselor visit, or 
call 800-633-4227. 


 Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. 
Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit 
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and 
author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! …December Birthdays*

Pat Karamitros, Joan Hufnagel, Mary Alice Cervera, Carol Horejsi, Shirley Anhalt, 
Mignon Grijalva, Helen Reese, Levon Yapoujian, Toni Buckner, Lottie Bugl, Pat 
McGuire, Sheila Wohler, Nan Murphy, Eleanor Hensel, Sylvia Curl, Elizabeth Levie, 
Gayle Licher, Cindy Barran, and Melissa Stute. 

* To add your name to this distinguished list, please call the paper at 626.355.2737. 
YEAR of birth not required but you must be over 60.


ACTIVITIES: Unless listed differently, all activities are at the Hart 
Park House (Senior Center) 222 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre



 YWCA San Gabriel Valley - Intervale Senior Cafe 

Seniors 60 years of age and up can participate in the YWCA Intervale daily lunch program held at the 
Hart Park House Senior Center. Meals are served Monday through Friday at 12:00 pm and participants 
are encouraged to arrive by 11:45 am. Meals are a suggested donation of $3.00 for seniors 60 and over 
or $5.00 for non-senior guests. Daily reservations are necessary, space is limited. Please reserve your 
lunch by calling 626-355-0256.

Tech Talk: Will resume in the fall. 

Hawaiian and Polynesian Dance Class: Every Tuesday morning from 10:00 - 11:00am. Join instructor 
Barbara Dempsey as she instructs you in the art of hula. 

Bingo: Every Tuesday beginning at 1:00 pm. Cards are only $0.25 each! Everyone is welcome to join. 
May be cancelled if less than 5 people. 

Free Blood Pressure Testing: 2nd Tuesday of the month from 11:00am - 12:00 pm. No appt. necessary. 

Chair Yoga: Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00 - 11:45am. A suggested donation of $5 at one of the 
classes is requested, but is not required. 

Case Management: Meets the second Thursday of the month. Case Management services are provided 
by the YWCA and provide assistance in a variety of areas. Appointments are required and can be 
scheduled by calling the HPH Office at 626-355-7394. 

Birthday Celebrations: Every second Thursday of the month at the Hart Park House. The free birthday 
cake is provided by the Sierra Madre Civic Club. 

 Game Day: Every Thursday starting at 12:00 pm. (Please note the time change.) A regular group of 
seniors play poker. Other games available for use. 

 Free Strength Training Class: Every Friday from 12:45 - 1:30 pm with Lisa Brandley. The class utilizes 
light weights for low impact resistance training. All materials for the class are provided. 

Senior Club: Every Saturday at the Hart Park House Senior Center. Brown bag lunch at 11:30am. 


Proposed 2017 Trips

January The Broad Museum (Sold Out)

February St. Sophia’s Cathedral

March Walt Disney Concert Hall

April Tanaka Farm Strawberry Tour

May The Getty Villa

June Guided Dogs of America and The Wildlife Learning Center

July Gardens of the World

August Gondola Getaway

September Riley’s at Oak Glen

November Japanese American National Museum

December Mission Inn

Excursion Refund Policy

Notification of the cancellation must be made at least 3 business days before the excursion. A refund 
will only be issued; 1) for medical excuse or 2) if the Department is able to fill the patron’s spot from 
a waiting list. This refund will be issued in the form of a credit which will be applied to the patron’s 
account with the City, less a $13 Cancellation Fee. The credit will remain on your account for one 
year from the date issued and the credit may be used for any program or service offered by the 
Library & Community Services Dept.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: