If you have been sent a medical bill that you cannot afford, you may feel like you have no options. Don’t panic! In today’s blog – the first of two parts – we’d like to talk about some options you may have in the face of exorbitant medical bills, starting with:
1) Calling your health care insurance provider directly to make sure you were reimbursed fairly for your treatment
Those with medical coverage should never accept an insurance provider’s first denial of payment for treatment. Always reach out directly on the phone to your insurance company’s representative to review your claim, and don’t hesitate to file an official appeal if you remain dissatisfied with their reasons for denying you the insurance reimbursement.
2) Studying the medical bill carefully
Have you ever looked at a medical bill following a hospital stay? Sometimes it feels like these bills were intentionally designed to confuse patients. When you receive your bill, review it carefully to make sure the charges are accurate and fair, and contest charges that do not match the services you received.
3) Negotiating the bill down
One of the little known facts about health care is that individual medical bills are not written in stone. In fact, the cost of identical procedures in the same medical office on the same day can vary based on the negotiated charges allowed under the insurance plan of the patient. This means that you as a patient may be able to ask physicians and service providers for a reduction in your bill.
4) Looking into hospital-sponsored financial assistance programs
Many hospitals have programs (sometimes called ‘charity care’) designed to help those with substandard or no medical coverage. Make a point to ask for this information from the hospital to see if you qualify for financial assistance.
5) Looking into government-sponsored financial assistance programs
State and local agencies also may have assistance programs targeted specifically for medical-related emergencies. To find those in your area, contact the hospital or local government social service agencies.
6) Creating a payment plan that spaces out payments over time
Many independent physicians, medical offices, and hospitals will work with you to create a payment plan if you cannot pay off the balance immediately. The important thing is to create a payment plan that works for you, and then diligently follow-up on meeting these payments until you are fully paid off.
We hope these tips will serve as a successful first line of defense towards unexpected and exorbitant medical bills. Ideally you now have some tools and strategies at your disposal to help you lower your bill; our next blog will pick up right at this point and discuss some of the options available to you to get the cash you need quickly to pay your bill. In the meantime, if you are facing a financial crisis of any kind, and are receiving payments from a structured settlement or annuity, you can always call J.G. Wentworth for a free, no-obligation discussion, regarding your options on how to get your money sooner. Feel free to call the company anytime at 877-227-4713.
Nothing above is meant to provide financial or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.