What if someone could help you understand your medical bills or even negotiate some of the costs with hospitals?
That’s exactly what one startup promises to do. BillCrew, founded in 2015, is a platform that connects patients with large medical bills to expert medical billing advocates. Users just fill out a form, choose an advocate, and BillCrew connects them within 24 hours.
“Our advocates have decades of experience in medical billing and coding, and they can quickly review bills to identify errors, assess overcharges, and then proceed to negotiate with providers,” said Tanya Rosbash, founder of BillCrew.
After only three weeks of being in service, BillCrew has received six requests from patients. Together, their medical bills total $50,000.
Rosbash and her cofounders, all Harvard Business School students, came together over shared frustration with the U.S. healthcare system and medical billing. Through research they found that there are $450 billion per year in out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures and that 80 percent of hospital bills contain some type of error. They also learned that medical billing advocates do exist. The problem is, most people don’t know they exist.
“We suddenly saw an area of opportunity and realized we could build something to help people reduce their bills and navigate the system more effectively,” Rosbash said.
Rosbash explained that most people are unaware of how common billing errors are and that there are people who can help them. BillCrew conducted a survey and found that 75 percent of people didn’t know medical billing advocates exist.
Patients can try BillCrew risk-free. They only have to pay the company if the advocates are successfully able to reduce their bills. If the advocate can do that, the patient owes 30 percent of their savings: five percent for BillCrew and 25 percent for the advocate.
BillCrew launched as part of a Harvard Business School project. They’ve received a small amount of funding from the school, Rosbash said, and they will seek other sources of funding next year. They hope to grow and evolve the platform, but for now they’re focusing on creating awareness and helping patients.
Alexandra David is a senior at Boston University studying journalism. She was the City Editor of the Daily Free Press and has worked for the IDG News Service and LeadingAge. Her passions include social justice, Boston, and, of course, journalism. Her hobbies include reading (like a good writer) and watching documentaries.
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