Medical Billing Questions Answered

martinis and your money

Medical Billing Questions Answered

I love this podcast. It started out over a year ago almost on a dare from some of my blog friends, but it’s grown into a passion project for me. It’s led clients to me, it’s developed friendships for me, but more than anything, I love this podcast because I have the ability to educate and transform people’s financial lives through it; and today’s episode is a great example of why I love this podcast.

One of my private Facebook group listeners asked me to talk about medical billing on the show and with staggering statistics like 64 million consumers with medical bill collections on their credit reports, I can understand why. So, I immediately reached out to an expert in this field, Pat Palmer, founder of Medical Billing Advocates of America, and I was not disappointed by Pat’s knowledge and advice for how to handle medical bills and disputes. It’s my 79th show and one of the most important to me from an informational perspective. I hope you’ll listen and know that you need to advocate for yourself where medical bills are concerned because it will literally save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.


PAT — A Strawberry Daiquiri

SHANNON — Vodka & soda with a splash of cranberry (called The Ponytail in Texas)


  • Over 64 million consumers have medical collections on their credit report.
  • Pat started her company after having frustrations with being charged for hospital business items unrelated to her daughter’s medical bills.
  • She argued those charges and was able to get them taken off the bills.
  • Often times, people have no clue what they are being billed for.
  • Before you consider making any payments, ask for the detailed itemized statement of your bill; you are entitled to it.
  • Next, analyze your bill, whether you have medical knowledge or not, to try and discover unwarranted charges.
  • If you have questions about the coding used on your bill, the hospital’s nurse station is often very helpful in explaining the items.
  • Note that a charge on your bill for something routinely used or given is not billable because the charge is already factored into some other charge on your bill.
  • If you have questions about your bill, send them to the director of billing services to receive answers; they are often required to respond in 15 days.
  • Pat recommends looking for someone who won’t add an extra expense to what you already owe to advocate on your behalf if your medical bill is hard to understand.
  • Advocates in Pat’s company save patients an average of 17% or higher.
  • Pat says 8 out of 10 bills that come to her company contain errors.
  • Allowing this abusive billing to happen raises the premiums on healthcare costs.
  • There are always options for how you repay your medical bills including:
    • Prompt Pay
    • Payment Plans
  • Do all the work before your final bill comes around, and don’t just accept that bill as absolutely final.
  • FINAL TAKEAWAYS: Ask for the itemized statement of every bill you get and commit the time and energy to analyzing your bills to find areas where you can save!
  • RESOURCES: where Pat’s book The Medical Bill Survival Guide is available for purchase!


  1. What is your favorite thing to do on your downtime?
  2. What’s a book that you could read over and over again?
  3. Are you a dessert person or an appetizer person?

Have you ever been overcharged on a medical bill? Did you have a medical bill go to collections? Do you examine all of your medical bills before paying them?


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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.


  1. There was a time when I had a very patient billing department employee on the phone for a good 20 minutes while we went over my husband’s bill.

    Unfortunately, it was all correct, but some of that stuff was very confusing. For example, he was in the same room he’d been in the previous trip, but he was charged almost three times more. Turns out the terminology isn’t *actually* what room is being used but the level of attention the patient needs. Surely there’s a better way to put that? And I had her verify that he had definitely been given a test that neither of us remembered him getting. But she was able to actually find the results of that test. So we let that one go, too.

    Medical billing is a nightmare, especially if you’re uninsured (as my husband was a few years ago) or have high deductibles. I’m glad there are people like Pat out there to help patients and their families navigate this kind of stuff.

  2. My favorite book is Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. I think I have read it more than 5 times and every time I read it, there’s another set of new lessons the book imparts to me.

  3. I had to go to the ER last month due to an adverse reaction to medication and when I got the bill I remembered that earlier in the year I had listened to this episode.

    I re-listened to get all the pointers down again, which was great because I had forgotten to ask about a Prompt Pay discount. No discounts were offered through the online bill pay, so I would have assumed that was that before the podcast.

    I just called customer service and got 20% off for using the Prompt Payment phrase!!

    Thank you so much, Shannon and Pat!

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