TikToker Shaunnaburns3 claimed that asking hospitals to itemize ER bills would reduce them. After several folks tested the hack, they confirmed it does indeed work.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 13, 2022. It has since been updated.
Thanks to a now-viral TikTok, dozens of folks in the United States have found a clever way to reduce their emergency room bills. TikTok user Shaunnaburns3 posted a video in which she explains how requesting an itemized bill with every single charge often leads to a lower total bill. According to TikToker, this is because hospitals tend to overcharge for the most basic items, such as bandaids. Ever since the video first went viral, people have tested the hack to see if it works. And indeed, it does. This tip can be a game-changer for those who do not have medical insurance, Bored Panda reports.
Waiting on hold forever (on the phone and on the "Live chat") to try to get Health Insurance coverage again (apparently in a coverage gap now)...which is nerve racking considering I racked up a $28,000 emergency room visit bill last year...Health Care is so messed up in the US!— Sage Canaday (@SageCanaday) January 4, 2022
"Here's another scenario: you go to the emergency room, you get a bill for $1000," Shaunnaburns3 states in her TikTok video. "The very first thing you do, other than calling and asking for a review of the level of care—that's the first thing you do—while on the phone, while they're doing that, you also say: 'I want an itemized bill with every single charge.'" She goes on to share how the hospital will take off exorbitant expenses "because they don't want you to know they've charged you $37 for a bandaid," for example.
"20 percent of U.S. patients who had emergency care were treated by someone outside of their insurance network, including emergency room doctors, radiologists or laboratories. Any of those providers could send patients an extra bill after the fact... Such bills are now illegal." https://t.co/koa7MxuDht— Lauren Benet Stephenson (@laurenbenet) January 5, 2022
The TikTok user concludes, "Any of those st*pid charges, they're gonna take them right off. Generally, my bills go from $1000 to $750. They take about $200 off just for st*pid sh*t. And all you have to do is ask for an itemized bill with every charge." After the video went viral, folks actually tried out Shaunnaburns3's hack. As it turns out, it completely works. "Bro, I went to the ER a while ago and got a huge bill [of] over $1,000," one Twitter user posted on the platform. "I saw a TikTok stating that if you ask for an itemized bill they reduce it and so I called and asked for one and just got it. B*tch, I don’t owe sh*t now."
Nearly 1 in 5 patients who go to the emergency room, have an elective surgery or give birth in a hospital receive a surprise bill, with an average cost of $750 to $2,600 per incident, according to an HHS report. https://t.co/8CB5OpMYME— Roll Call (@rollcall) January 5, 2022
Others, too, chimed in on how the hack worked for them. One Twitter user noted, "Yup! Did this for two different surgeries. Suddenly my balance was magically paid in full both times." Another added, "Dude, I told my homegirl to do this after I saw that video, and her bill went from $500 to $45, dead*ss." For others, however, it took a little more effort and time to ensure they were charged fairly. "[i] did this for a $30,000 bill," one individual explained. "It took 40 hours of phone calls over 10 months to get it but I got a statement with $0 due."
I’ve experienced unexpected medical bills firsthand. But thanks to a new law I supported, no one will have to worry they’ll walk out of the emergency room and into a huge surprise bill.— Rep. Sharice Davids (@RepDavids) January 10, 2022
Learn more about these new consumer protections via @KCTV5: pic.twitter.com/LwFNxegiSV
But why does this hack work? Well, some Twitter users had their own explanations: "Since hospitals normally charge insurance companies they’ll go out of their way to charge for the smallest things such as napkins so itemizing it takes off the extra charges that weren’t really necessary," one person stated. Others offered tips for even those with medical insurance. "If you have insurance, also NEVER pay a bill until you make sure the amount matches the amount on your explanation of benefits that your insurance says you need to pay," a Twitter user wrote. "[I] cannot tell you how many thousands of dollars this has saved me, due to clerical errors by insurance and doctors." So, the next time you find yourself in the emergency room, this may be a hack worth trying out.
This is the Tiktok I saw! I don’t really know if it works for other things but it doesn’t hurt to try! pic.twitter.com/LXXJm4jkYp— ehvuh (@the_heva) December 29, 2019