Medical bills can be a serious drain on your finances. According to Redbook Magazine, about 700,000 families are forced into bankruptcy each year due to healthcare costs. If you have some serious medical debts piling up, it’s time to start thinking about how to handle them effectively. Even if you don’t have any medical bills hanging over your head, be sure to read these tips – they can help you negotiate a better deal from the get-go.
Don’t Ignore Bills
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should never ignore your medical bills. In comparison with some other debts, a medical debt may not seem as urgent. That’s because not all hospitals and healthcare providers send out automatic reminders or hassle you with phone calls over your unpaid bills. Don’t let this lure you into a false sense of security – these businesses can still send your bills to a collection agency, which can hurt your credit.
When you know you have a medical bill, handle it right away rather than putting it off. Keep track of any bills you’ve received and make your payments on time. Failing to do so could put you at risk financially and end up damaging your credit score.
Look At The Bill Details
Hospitals and healthcare providers may be dealing with hundreds or thousands of patients. With all those people handling your care, billing mistakes are bound to happen. When you receive your bill, it’s essential to go through it line-by-line to make sure you’re not getting charged for any procedures or examinations that weren’t actually performed. If your initial bill isn’t itemized, ask for one from the hospital.
Apply For Aid
Even if you’re trying to be responsible by paying your bills, you may still be struggling to pay off your medical debt. If you’re low-income, disabled or have other challenges that make it hard for you to pay off your medical bills, there’s a chance that you could qualify for some aid programs at the state level. There are also many hospital-run financial assistance programs as well as charity-care policies that could help reduce your bill. You can research these opportunities online or ask the hospital or healthcare provider about them directly. It may mean that you have to fill out some paperwork or go in for an appointment, but the financial assistance you could receive will be well worth it.
Negotiate A Payment Plan
If the hospital’s payment plan doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to ask about other options. Many healthcare providers are happy to work with patients to establish a payment plan that works for them. What’s in it for the hospital? Basically, if a patient goes through the trouble of negotiating a payment schedule that meets their budget, it means the healthcare provider is much more likely to actually get the money they’re billing you for.
Make sure that you’re speaking to the right person when you want to negotiate a new repayment schedule. Ask if there’s anyone you can speak to about low-income or disability assistance. If you can’t get a response from anyone, ask to speak to a manager. Being assertive can pay off when it comes to this step in paying off high medical bills. Whatever plan you set up, make sure you get the details of the plan sent to you in writing.
Talk To The Insurance Company
Patients with insurance likely already contacted their insurance provider when they received the medical care initially. However, it’s always worth taking a second look at your coverage. If you think that you may be eligible for more coverage (or if your claim was originally denied), you can try appealing it. If this is the first time you’ve made an appeal, refer to your plan document for details about how to do this.
Paying off medical bills can be daunting, but there are several ways to handle it effectively. Once you’ve dealt with existing medical debt, start looking into possible insurance options or alternatives to prevent further medical debts from accumulating.