Everyone knows the price of childbirth in America is costly, so any mistakes on a hospital bill can be especially burdensome.
After one mom realized the hospital where she gave birth wrongfully overcharged her, she stumbled on a way to fight back from an unlikely source.
In a viral video that has been viewed over 482,000 times, TikToker Annie Muscato (@afmuscato) explained how a debt collector taught her how to fight incorrect medical charges.
“Today’s unsolicited life hack is going to be about medical bills,” the woman began in the clip. “And the life hack is going to be brought to you by a very random debt collector.”
She was tipped off to being overcharged by the hospital when she noticed her bill seemed to be exorbitant, even in the context of the extraordinarily high cost of giving birth in this country.
“I know that having kids in the United States is expensive because I’ve had one of them … but this seems like several thousand too many dollars,” she said of the bill.
The mom immediately contacted the hospital to request an itemized bill to pinpoint why the cost was so high. That’s when she noticed the charge for a service she never received.
“It also had on there, for close to $3,000, that I had an epidural,” she continued. “I can assure you I did not have an epidural with my second child.”
The TikToker initially thought it would be easy to amend the bill, but she quickly learned clearing the wrongful charge would be no easy feat.
“I did 10 rounds with them, and they were insistent that I did, in fact, have an epidural,” she said.
Despite the discrepancy she found after looking at her bill, she still decided to pay it, minus the amount for the epidural that was being disputed. She imagined that because she had made a good-faith payment and was in communication with the hospital, the situation would not escalate.
She was wrong.
“They sent it to debt collections,” she said.
Fortunately, that’s when she was able to get the help that she needed. During a call with a debt collector, she learned the best way to dispute wrongful charges on medical bills.
“Call them and tell them that you want to request your full medical record because now you are concerned about what else has been erroneously recorded in your medical record,” the mom was reportedly advised.
It appears the advice worked like a charm.
“Y’all, when I tell you that solved my problem so freaking fast,” the TikToker said. “They removed the charge within hours.”
The mom did apparently have a backup plan if the debt collector’s advice didn’t work.
“She also saved the billing department from me rolling in with the video of my epidural-less birth,” the video’s caption read.
@afmuscato She also saved the billing department from me rolling in with the video of my epidural-less birth #lifehack #protip #medicaldebt #medicalbill #debtcollection #parenting #childbirth ♬ original sound – Annie Muscato
In the comments section, viewers shared similar stories about being overcharged by hospitals for services they never received.
“We got billed for our son’s circumcision…. which he didn’t have,” one viewer wrote. “I told the billing lady I would bring him in to prove it.”
“I got charged for a C section that I never had,” another commenter said. “That was easy to prove as I’ve never been pregnant.”
“I got billed for labor and delivery,” another viewer added. “I didn’t have a baby.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Annie Muscato via email for comment.