KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Studies Find High Rates Of Errors In Medical Billing

Some employers are offering advocacy services to help consumers monitor their bills and deal with mistakes. Also in the news, a look at the cost of a shingles vaccination and how that plays out for Medicare beneficiaries versus private insurance consumers.

CNBC: It's Time To Get A Second Opinion Before Paying That Medical Bill
The next time you get a medical bill, don't pay it — at least not right away. It pays to check for errors first. Accounts of medical billing errors vary widely. While the American Medical Association estimated that 7.1 percent of paid claims in 2013 contained an error, a 2014 NerdWallet study found mistakes in 49 percent of Medicare claims. Groups that review bills on patients' behalf, including Medical Billing Advocates of America and CoPatient, put the error rate closer to 75 or 80 percent. ... For some consumers, spotting and correcting medical billing problems is getting easier. A forthcoming Aon Hewitt survey of 800 large and mid-size employers found that 45 percent offer advocacy services to help workers manage their health-care benefits(Grant, 3/27)

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: For Some, Cost Of Shingles Shot Hurts, Too
Cost has long been cited as a barrier to some Medicare beneficiaries receiving the shingles vaccine, but the problem is drawing fresh attention as awareness of the vaccine grows and wrinkles emerge with insurance coverage. ... Rules in the federal Affordable Care Act mean that many people age 60 to 64 with commercial health insurance can receive the shingles vaccine without paying anything out-of-pocket. But the health law regulations don’t apply to Medicare prescription drug plans — called “Part D” plans, for short. So, while all Medicare drug plans cover the vaccine, some beneficiaries like [Mike] Ambrose might have to first satisfy a deductible or make a sizable co-payment. (Snowbeck, 3/27)

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