Learn To Handle Medical Expenses

Written by on July 11, 2012 in Money - No comments | Print this page


Even with the best insurance it is still almost impossible to get any medical treatment without having to pay some of the cost from your own pocket. For major medical procedures the cost may add up into the thousands of dollars, and that is with quality insurance.

Like all issues related to personal finance the only thing that you can do is develop a beginning to end plan for medical care. This plan involves multiple steps.

Doctor Explaning Finances.

Learning to handle the financial side of your medical decisions is a must.

1. Understand your insurance policy.
You should of course (and probably do) know the basic numbers of your policy the premium, deductible, co-pay, etc, but it goes beyond that. You need to learn what exactly is and is not covered by your insurance. Assuming that a procedure will be covered can be a costly mistake, Especially for planned procedures.

While hospitals and doctors will normally ensure that the procedure you will be having is covered, you should never assume that they have. You must maintain control over your own finances. Its your finances on the line, not the doctors.

When you are verifying your coverage make sure to get a per-certification of coverage. Having this form will quickly resolve many of the billing arguments that almost always follow a trip to the hospital. Get it it writing!

2. Organize Those Bills.
Medical bills are far more annoying than other forms of bills. Most bills are received on a monthly basis covering the month before or after the receipt of the bill. They arrive in predictable, timely, and organized manner. Not medical bills. They arrive randomly. A bill for a surgeon might arrive three months after the bill from the anesthesiologists from the same procedure. Hospital bills will trickle in from different time periods and from different billing departments. They are a mess.

You need to get them organized. Verify you are not being double billed. Verify insurance is paying what it should. Verify that you are only paying for procedures that actually occurred. Organize and verify every bill you have.

3. Get on a payment plan.
Hospitals want to get payed. They would much rather be payed a small amount regularly than nothing at all. Contact the billing department of your healthcare provider to set up a plan.

Do this before you start even receiving bills. This will show to the hospital that you have every intention to pay your bill and will give you time to negotiate good terms.

4. Settle for less if you can.
While hospitals are willing to be payed over time they much prefer to be payed in one payment. They will often settle for a percentage of the total bill if that amount is going to be payed up front. With some hospitals this can be as much as %50 off the bill.

Many medical facilities also are willing to grant hardship waivers for those that can prove that they lack the ability to pay.

The billing departments don’t like dealing with long drawn out payments any more than you do, so don’t be afraid to ask for some sort of settlement. If you do get a settlement, always remember to get it in writing. The last thing you want is for you to think it is settled, and the lawyers to think it isn’t.

5. Check your credit score.
Strangely owing the hospital could hurt your credit score or improve it. It all depends on how the bills are classified. Make sure you examine your score to verify no bills are being miss labeled as bad debt or missed payments.


About the Author

Matt Brand

Matt Brand is QLR's money saving expert. His experience with credit cards and student loans have made him take a strong interest in personal finance, saving money and sharing his knowledge. He is passionate about teaching others how to avoid the trap and make smart financial decisions. View all posts by Matt Brand.