Insurance and deciphering what should be paid when and by whom is often a complex and intimidating task. Insurance companies and medical professionals/facilities have varying methods for billing and providing coverage. To navigate the payment system, it is important to understand the basic terminology used in the health insurance industry. Review our Health Plan Dictionary to familiarize yourself with the basic concepts in health insurance.

Interviews with patients with lung cancer and their caregivers revealed the following tips and techniques to consider when managing medical bills and insurance claims.

  • Maintain a physical or digital binder with copies of all bills, claims, and payment receipts in an organized manner (such as by appointment date and medical provider/facility) to more easily validate and dispute duplicate charges, etc.
  • Maintain a single spreadsheet of at least billing party name, invoice number, invoice date, amount charged, amount paid, and payment date.  Other comments related to treatment type, etc., may be helpful to assist with any sorting or reporting you may wish to do in the future.
  • Ask the patient's employer and/or health insurance company for a direct line to a dedicated representative to save time when calling in and asking questions.
  • Check EVERY bill for errors and duplicate charges and dispute all inconsistencies found. This happens more frequently than one may expect and can add up to significant overbilling in the long run. Do not be afraid to question the bills.

Insurance and Clinical Trials

When considering various treatment options with the health care professional, the option of [qtip:clinical trials|A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people] may be part of the discussion. It is important to note that clinical trials may or may not be covered by insurance, and financial considerations may need to be explored further. The National Cancer Institute offers some information on what is typical for insurance to cover in clinical trials. Ask your insurance provider about what is and is not covered to help you make an informed decision.