Did you get a surprise bill in the mail recently from your health insurer? You’re not alone. According to ScienceDaily®, over half of the American population has been in the exact same scenario.
Despite paying for health-care coverage, many Americans find that even the most minor of health-care matters can create costly medical bills. For instance, at least 53% of surprise medical bill cases came from physician services alone. Such services might seem minor enough to be covered by your health-care insurance, but you’d be surprised.
Some services your insurance provider may not cover include:
- Particular lab tests
- Prescription drugs
- Health-care facility charges
- Imaging services
- Emergency medical services
Whatever the cause for your particular bill, you probably have one thing on your mind: how do you recover from that bill?
Your best chance at minimizing the damage done from your unexpected medical bill is to apply the following practices.
Bring It Up Immediately with Your Health Insurer
The first thing to do whenever you receive a surprise bill from your health insurer is to contact that insurer immediately. While it might seem easier to pretend that your bill doesn’t exist, doing so won’t take you far. Chances are, if you leave the bill alone long enough, it will end up in a collection agency that will likely pursue you more aggressively. What’s more, your credit score will also drop.
If you take the time to talk to your health insurer about the bill, you can avoid the downsides of a collection agency and get a better idea about the cause of your bill. It will also give you a chance to double-check that the information your health insurer has is accurate and that they are following your particular health plan to the letter.
See If You Can Negotiate
Once you have a better grasp on the reason for your particular medical bill, try to see if you can negotiate with the clinic or health center that it came from.
It’ll seem intimidating at first, but many health centers are more willing to negotiate than you might believe. No one likes working and then dealing with the possibility of no payment, not even health centers. So with that in mind, consider negotiating with them using the following terms as suggested by the financial advice website The Balance:
- Ask if they’d offer a significant discount in return for you paying them with cash so they can save on credit card fees and time spent on paperwork.
- If you find discrepancies between the medical code listed on your bill and the care you received from the health center, call the center to question the charges and to ask for a more accurate bill.
- Look up what the fair price for the care you received is on the Healthcare Bluebook™ database, and see if your bill matches it. If it doesn’t, politely ask to speak with a supervisor of the health center’s billing department to make sure the bill matches the fair price.
- Just like anyone else, a health center would rather be paid something than nothing at all. So emphasize how unlikely it is that you’ll be able to pay them in full immediately. See if that might make them more willing to consider a fair installment plan.
Sometimes negotiation just doesn’t work. And when that happens, you end up stuck with a medical bill that might seem impossible to pay.
What should you do then?
Nowadays, social sites have evolved to where people like you can get the help you need. For example, crowdfunding through sites like GoFundMe has become a valuable option for people with exorbitant medical bills. These sites allow people to ask for donations from others all over the Internet to help them pay fees they may otherwise not be able to afford.
Crowdfunding might sound too good to be true, but according to The Balance, it has been successful enough to fund millions of dollars for particular projects.
Get Help from Outside the American Health-Care System
While you may still have part of an expensive medical bill to pay, you can avoid other health-care costs from adding to your current major one. For instance, try seeking medical assistance from outside the States. Many medical services are much cheaper in other countries, including prescription orders.
So if you have a condition that requires prescription drugs, visit a website like Canadian Pharmacy Service. These pharmacy referral service websites can get you in touch with licensed pharmacies from outside the States where you’ll be able to order prescription drugs at a much more affordable rate.
Every little bit of financial assistance helps, so the next time a medical bill takes you by surprise, consider what opportunities are available for you to minimize the cost.
What are you doing to recover from unexpected medical bills?