Medical bills scare us all. Today, consumers are responsible for much more out of pocket costs at all levels including premium and expenses. Medical debt can actually appear on your credit history as shortly as 180 days. To avoid this, address the bills as soon as they arrive. Taking immediate action of some kind is valuable and can allow a payment plan to begin, an extension or request for financial assistance. Here are some additional options to check into when medical bills arise.
Don’t automatically pay your bills as they arrive. Often times, a provider or facility like a hospital will process the billing to the patient before the insurance payment has been completed. Wait until you receive your Explanation of Benefits from your insurance carrier so you can compare it to the bills you have received. That way you will show their payments also.
Definitely get an itemized bill! Look for duplicate charges, or charges for tests or procedures or services you did not receive. Question and report the errors to the doctor’s office, hospital or the insurance company.
Compare prices. We often do not think of our healthcare as a commodity or something we can ‘shop’ around for. In recent years, providers and facilities have begun listing their prices. If not, you are allowed to call a facility, for example an imaging company for an MRI. Calling for the cost of the outpatient facility charge and comparing it to a free standing or ambulatory facility could result in lower costs to you.
Offer to pay immediately or paying in full. Some providers or facilities may offer sizable discounts for an immediate payment in full. Payment of one bill may free up a payment plan for another bill that may not accept immediate payment with relief.
As most of us do, set up a payment plan. Providers and facilities are required to accept payment as long as the consumer is making an effort to pay.
Many providers and facilities offer free or reduced rates to those who qualify due to low incomes or other reasons. There is an organization called DollarFor.org that can assist with placing individuals with forgiveness programs.
The cost of medical care and our portion as consumers has risen immensely in the last few years. Think prevention – taking care of yourself before something catastrophic happens. Start a savings account on a monthly basis for just such medical emergencies. If you have additional questions on medical bills or how to ask for help, let us know at Health Insurance Advisor, LLC.
A little more about us:
The Business Warrior group has some of the industry’s top experts in all the areas your business needs to be successful. Amongst the contributors is Janis VanAhn, owner of Health Insurance Advisor, LLC. For 19 years Janis has worked in and around the health insurance industry initially providing service to agents and employers related to employee benefits, individual healthcare and Medicare, while more recently becoming appointed as an individual agent with various quality carriers to provide this service to individuals through her own business.
Four years ago Janis was ‘blessed’ with being let go from her job at an insurance ageny. Staying within insurance was her path…but in what capacity. 2010 was the year Janis began her career as an independent insurance agent specializing in health insurance. Finding quality, cost-effective healthcare for individuals and families under age 65 as well as working with those who are Medicare eligible truly was her passion. She has made this a true specialty and positioned herself as someone to work with whether it is a financial professional or property & casualty agent with a client that needs assistance, to a group of seniors turning 65 and they keep receiving Medicare information and are confused about what to do.
Janis enjoys the one on one contact with clients as well as looking forward to speaking to groups about healthcare. Her excitement for this industry is what drives her to stay in tune with Healthcare Reform and what is currently happening and what will happen with coverage from now to past 2014.
‘Educating individual and Medicare consumers to make informed choices’ is her mission because if people are educated and understand, they will make informed choices that they are comfortable with.