Recovering from sickness, injury or accident can be a tough process. Your situation may even get worse once you realize that you have to pay for a high medical bill. If you have insurance coverage and savings in the bank, that’s well and good. But not everyone has money to spend or has someone to turn to for financial help.
If you find yourself in such a dire situation, what are your options? Here are some tips that you can follow to manage expensive medical bills.
Accidents are unavoidable and sicknesses may come as an unpleasant surprise. What you can do is save money and allocate it on a medical expense budget. This will be your emergency fund so that when an unfortunate incident happens, you will have the money to pay for health and hospitalization expenses.
Medical procedures can be costly. Also, doctors don’t display their professional fees on the websites of the hospitals or clinics they are affiliated with. Research on how much the procedures and fees cost by asking your insurance provider as rates may vary from one hospital or doctor to another. If you don’t have an insurance coverage, you can call hospitals directly and ask for information. It may be a time-consuming task but making phone calls will help you get the information you need so you will know where to go for affordable rates.
Check Your Bill Thoroughly
Whether your stay at the hospital is planned or unplanned, it is important that you check your medical bills for errors. Look out for overcharges or fees for services that you did not use. If there are charges that you don’t understand, visit the hospital billing office and ask for someone to explain them for you. Common billing errors that you should be aware of include duplicate billing, unbundling, mismatched coding, and balance billing.
Negotiate for Payment Terms
Ask for the cash rate first. Medical providers often have a reduced rate if you will be paying the full balance in cash. However, if you cannot afford to settle the entire balance, talk to your doctor or, if necessary, the hospital administrator and try to negotiate a payment plan. You should do this as soon as possible as they may send your billing to a collections’ agency if you wait too long.
Keep in mind that you are asking for compassion and understanding. Showing them your income and explaining your financial situation will help them understand the root of your request. Let them know how much you can realistically pay for each month so you won’t fall behind on your payments. If you are able to work out a payment schedule, keep your end of the bargain.
Seek Financial Assistance
If negotiating for a payment schedule and reduced rate fails, seeking financial help is your last resort. Reach out to charitable organizations or medical billing advocates. Hospitals, especially non-profit ones, offer financial assistance programs designed to help patients who cannot afford to pay their medical bills.
Finding ways to settle your hospital bills can be stressful, but paying for it is still a responsibility that you have to face. If you choose to ignore settling your medical bills, keep in mind that there will be repercussions. The hospital will eventually turn over your unpaid bills to a collections’ agency, which may be harder to deal with compared to your health care provider.