The sad reality is that health insurance is a luxury, not a right. Not everyone can afford it. When times get tough, the first thing that goes is health insurance. Some may be able to afford health insurance. Either privately or through an employer. Yet, this is not a guarantee that there won’t be any medical bills at the end of the month. Many health insurance plans still need beneficiaries to make co-payments for various procedures. In certain situations, the medical bills can start to pile up.
Let’s look at a simple example. Let’s say you have an accident and you need medical attention. Your doctor isn’t available, so you drive to the next available doctor. You receive medical attention and give your health insurance details. To your surprise, you receive a medical bill at the end of the month. It reads “X-rays and CT scan“. You’re responsible for the whole account because you went to an out-of-network provider. You start to wonder how you will pay these astronomical bills on a small salary.
You Have Options
Have you ever received a letter threatening legal action for outstanding medical bills? It’s a frightening experience. When you have to make due on a small salary, it can cause a lot of stress. You can barely get by as it is. How will you stretch your income to cover these additional expenses? Not to worry. You do have options!
Get a Second Job
This option may not be for everyone. We don’t all have the extra eight to twelve hours a week to spend at a second job. However, if you can cut out time from your busy schedule, getting a second job can help ease the financial load. There are many work-from-home options that you could consider. Many of which could double as a hobby. For example, there are tutor jobs online. Many high school students need help with subjects like math, English, and science. The job pays hourly rates or per project. You answer questions and get paid per question. Depending on the company, prices range between $1.50 to $10 per tutor question. You won’t become a millionaire, but you can make a dent in those medical bills. There are English as a Second Language jobs, transcription jobs, and writing jobs available.
Review Your Charges
You rightfully expect communication from a hospital or doctor’s office to be accurate. If there are charges on your medical account, you believe those are your charges. However, this is a mistake. Human error is a common reason for erroneous medical bills. People make mistakes. That’s why you should go over your medical bills. If you don’t understand the abbreviations, speak to the billing department. Make sure that each charge on your medical bill is yours. It isn’t unusual for a billing department to add one client’s charges to another client’s bill. It’s not a deliberate mistake. Yet, it does happen more frequently than you might like to believe.
If you have more than one bill from various service providers, you may want to consider taking out a loan. Some might not want to do this because a loan comes with interest. Yet, medical bill payment plans also come with interest. If you have good credit, you may consider taking out a loan to cover your debt. You’ll be paying back one institution instead of many institutions. It may not be the best option, but at least you won’t stress about choosing which service providers to pay for.
Discounts and Payment Plans
You can ask the billing department for a discount. If you have the cash to pay a large sum upfront, try to negotiate a discount. Offer to settle the account within a specified period. The medical billing department might give you a discount. For example, let’s say your medical bill is $2000. You might ask for a 10% discount if you settle the account within 30 days. If you don’t have the cash to settle the account, you could try to secure the loan first. Then negotiate a discount.
If getting a discount isn’t an option and you can’t get a loan, try negotiating a payment plan. You’d be surprised at how willing billing departments are to negotiate. At the end of the day, they want their money, even if that means payments over some time.
If you can’t negotiate a payment plan, you can’t get a loan, and there isn’t enough time for a second job, get a medical advocate. They are medical professionals that work directly with service providers. They can review your medical bill and ensure you owe the full amount. A medical advocate can negotiate on your behalf. They will ask for discounts, waivers, or a reduced payment plan. Of course, their services come at a price. You’ll need to pay 30% of the value of the negotiated medical bill.
Ask for Help
Many medical institutions offer discounts based on income. You might qualify to get your whole bill written off if you earn a low income.