Tens of thousands of people become burdened with the high cost of medical care every year and wonder why their insurance didn’t pay more of the bill. That’s a discussion for another day. It’s bad enough to have been in the hospital to incur a large medical bill, but it’s worse to get hit with a double whammy–the medical procedure itself and the subsequent massive medical bill.
Recently, the Kaiser Family Foundation published in June 2019 the results of a poll taken discussing the difficulty in paying medical bills during the past year. About 50 percent of the respondents said that yes, their medical bills severely affected them and their families. Consider the effect of people sick and can’t work due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the ensuing bills coming their way.
As bad as things appear right now, there is help available. Consumers dealing with health care debt have a range of options available to help. It’s best to understand the ramifications of not paying or neglecting to contact collectors. Here a few points to consider.
If you can’t pay and you haven’t made arrangements to settle the bill, they will likely sell your account to a collection agency that’s more familiar with these situations. You’ll have time to discuss all of your options before they take action against you, but waiting until the last minute won’t help you. Be proactive, if possible. That makes a good impression and helps when you’re negotiating.
Check Your Bills for Errors
We want to be sure that our bills have no mistakes and the amount showing is accurate. With today’s advanced technology, including the medical sector, mistakes happen, and sometimes they’re big. You owe it to yourself to check for errors in how the insurance company entered information, like being charged twice or more for the same service or procedure. If you notice even the slightest of errors, don’t overlook anything and bring it to the billing department’s attention immediately.
Negotiate Your Medical Bills
When paying your medical bills gets tough and you need help, always try talking with your debt collector or the hospital’s billing office. Many times talking with them yields better-than-expected results. Remember that they’re people, too.
It doesn’t hurt to ask for help paying the bills and to ask for a low-interest or interest-free payment plan. If it’s possible to pay cash, use that as a lever to reduce your balance further.
Many collectors will reduce your bill even more if you can pay the total in cash that day. If you’re in a situation where your insurance didn’t cover a portion of the bill, ask for the insurance rate, which is less expensive and will lower the final bill.
Fortunately for low-income patients, federal law requires nonprofit hospitals to assist those who can’t afford to pay their medical bills. If yours is a nonprofit, prepare to show proof of income, including pay stubs and tax returns, if needed.
If you qualify, you may have your bill reduced substantially or canceled altogether. If you suspect you may not be eligible for financial assistance, it’s always worth giving it a try because sometimes the plans work on a sliding scale, and you could receive a 20 percent or more reduction of your bill.
For Practitioners: Patient Estimation Software
Medical billing is improving, and more people are beginning to notice a welcome change in the missing transparency. For too long, medical billing standards made reading and understanding a typical bill for services difficult, if not impossible, for the average person, not to mention the high number of avoidable mistakes.
To that end, patient estimation software is revolutionizing medical billing practices. The software represents a long-sought-after solution for hospitals and health systems longing to build a better rapport with patients in billing situations.
This software sets patient financial expectations upfront to avoid confusion by providing accurate estimates of their financial responsibility. It allows patients to understand their benefits and commitment at the time of service more easily and set up a reasonable and affordable payment plan, whether at the hospital or the doctor’s office.
This transparency significantly improves patient satisfaction and lessens the misunderstandings prevalent in previous billing systems. The software also accurately calculates patient out-of-pocket levels using data from payers’ contracts and typical physician and facility fees. The beauty of this software is its speed and accuracy. Patients avoid burdensome wait times for their critical billing and benefits information.