They both say “amount you owe” on the bottom line, so which one should you pay? Here’s what you need to know about EOBs vs. Bills.
Let's say you recently visited your doctor or other healthcare provider, and you're wondering how much that visit is going to cost. Then one day you get something in the mail that sort of looks like a bill – it even says "amount you owe" at the bottom. But it's missing the usual tear-off portion and return envelope. Confused? You're not the only one.
Most likely it's an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your health insurance plan. We get a lot of questions about EOBs from our members. Here's a little primer on why you got that EOB and what you're supposed to do when you get it.
The Explanation of Benefits is not a bill so, no, you shouldn't pay anything yet. It's really just a report of what your insurance plan is going to cover, based on what the doctor has charged and what type of plan you have.
The important things to check are, first, the services you received and the date you received them. Next look for the provider responsibility, which is how much your insurance plan covered. If your plan has a deductible, copay, or coinsurance (a set percentage you each have to pay), it all gets figured into the equation. What's left is the "amount you owe."
You should always save your Explanation of Benefits forms until you get the final bill from your doctor or health care provider. Compare the amount you owe on the EOB to the amount on the bill. If they match, that's the amount you'll need to pay. Keep in mind that often you will get more than one EOB if you received more than one type of service or treatment, or if you received treatment on more than one day. You may have a stack of several, which you should save. Your bill should itemize the services you received so you can see what was billed and what was covered for each.