Hidden Fees to Look for in Medical Waste Services

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It’s an unsettling phrase – “hidden fees.” You are probably familiar with hidden fees poppingup in things like a cable bill or a credit card transaction, but what about your medical waste services? Are there hidden fees lurking in your service agreement or invoice? If so, where should you look to find them? Here’s how to make sure your medical practice does not incur questionable or inaccurate fees that increase operating costs and negatively affect your bottom line.

Lurking Fees That May Be in Your Initial Agreement

Before you sign a medical waste services contract, ask if the quoted price is all-inclusive or if there will be any additional charges on your bill. If so, ask for a full explanation of those charges. Typically, other services such as OSHA trainings are included in the monthly fee. Carefully read all pages of the agreement to make sure that extra items such as fuel charges, environmental charges, and container surcharges are not billed. Often, there may be a low monthly charge on the first page of the contract, followed by pages of fine print where fees are hiding.

Ask what happens if there are empty containers on your scheduled pickup day and ask about the cost for scheduling additional pickups. Some companies charge for all containers on site, whether or not they are picked up. Extra containers, overweight containers or unscheduled pickups may incur unreasonable fees instead of the initial, contracted rate. Make sure to differentiate between one-time fees and recurring fees.

Unfortunately, some companies that execute contracts do not want you to have the option of leaving if they charge hidden fees. They might also raise your rates, leaving you with no recourse. Then, when you try to get out of the contract, they charge huge cancellation penalties! Make sure there are no automatic price increases or unlimited price increases included in your contract. If you enter a long-term agreement, be aware of any penalties associated with early termination. Finally, if it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist. Do not consider verbal agreements as binding.

Reviewing Your Medical Waste Disposal Bill for Hidden Fees

A common tactic used by companies that hide fees is to make the invoice complicated. If your bill is difficult to understand, that should be a red flag. While there are some fees that are allowable and unavoidable, others may be either inaccurate or unwarranted. The only way to know which charges can be eliminated is to perform a waste audit. This means staying on top of your bill each month and evaluating it thoroughly.  For example, If your service needs change due to considerations like heavy patient volume,, you may incur an allowable fee during one month. Then, that fee could be accidentally carried over into the next month. You should also be  on the lookout for vague service charges.

If you do find any billing inconsistencies, do these three things:

  • Reference your service agreement for support.
  • If possible, have someone else double-check your findings.
  • Contact your waste services provider immediately for prompt resolution. 

The Best Way to Avoid Hidden Fees

The need to avoid hidden fees is a tremendous driver of doing business with a company you know and trust. If possible, contract with a local waste service provider to manage your medical waste. Local companies tend to be more transparent in their business practices, which builds trust. They welcome any questions about service agreements or billing and they are dedicated to providing the highest level of service to businesses in the communities where they live and work. Another way to avoid hidden fees is to ask your provider for references. Then, ask those customers specific questions about billing and service agreements.

As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” While you certainly do not want to cut corners on your medical waste disposal costs, you also do not want to incur hidden fees. Doing business with a transparent, honest company should result in service agreements with no fine print and easy-to-read invoices that accurately reflect the contract terms.

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