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According to the American Journal of Medicine, unexpected medical expenses are driving much of the bankruptcies in the US. Just over 62% of all bankruptcies (around two thirds) were due to unexpected medical expenses.
There is no doubt that these are grim figures. But what makes these numbers even more disturbing is that back in 1981, medical reasons accounted for only 8% of all bankruptcies. The cost of medical care is rising astronomically and Americans just can’t seem to cope with the dire situation.
Here is how you can deal with unexpected medical expenses without taking out a loan.
Ensure That the Bills Are Correct
You can read about plenty of cases over the internet where patients were shocked to see sky high bills but upon further inquiry found that these amounts were wrong. Patients are often charged for procedures that they did not apply for. Frequently, the wrong amount is listed for medical services that patients availed and they are invariably higher rather than lower.
You will also have to look for insurance companies since they frequently demand out-of-pocket costs so that you too have to share the burden of the unexpected medical expenses. Make sure that you read your insurance policy to find out how much out-of-pocket expense you truly owe. If there is any discrepancy in the amounts (and chances are you will almost certainly be charged extra), then you should dispute it with your insurance carrier and show them the amount in the agreement.
Make sure that your insurance company has processed your claim correctly. For instance, if the insurance company treats the emergency procedure as a doctor visit, then it will pay less and leave more unexpected medical expenses for you. Hence, in addition to checking the hospital bill, you should also scrutinize how your insurance carrier processed your benefit claim.
Also make sure that you inquire about anything that you don’t understand in the bill. If you see anything in the bill that sounds unfamiliar, then get in touch with your doctor to find out what it represents. If it is for a procedure or service that was not provided, do not hesitate to point it out and ask for a correction of the amount.
Negotiations to Bring Down Unexpected Medical Expenses
When you are feeling sick and tired, then entering into a stressful negotiation with your doctor might seem like the last thing on your mind. However, you must do your best to convince your hospital to reduce the bill amount since you will have to pay it later on and it will create even bigger headaches. It is better to take the trouble of negotiating your unexpected medical expenses now than to struggle paying for it later on. Negotiation with your health care provider when you are sick may not sound appealing but then pleading to hostile debt management and collection agencies is much worse.
The advantage of negotiations is that you may end up having more favorable terms for the payment of unexpected medical expenses that will have a smaller strain on your finances and mental well-being later on. You can then pay reasonable amounts each month instead of defaulting and watching your credit score nosedive.
Charity Care to Reduce Unexpected Medical Expenses
There are plenty of health care providers and hospitals that extend a certain level of charity each year; meaning, that they forego medical bills for people facing dire financial circumstances.
In order to qualify for charity care, your income level must be lower than the threshold specified by your health care provider. The idea of applying for charity might appear abhorrent to many but if your income levels are so low that you qualify, then you should not let go of this opportunity. After all, it was designed for people whose income is such that they are eligible and deserving of such concessions. Qualifying for this program can mean that you may become free of your medical debt arising from unexpected medical expenses. Another possibility is that your medical debt will be substantially reduced so that you can pay affordable amounts each month.
If you do have some cash to pay part of your medical bill, then you should request a discount for immediate cash payment. Many health care providers extend discounts for those who pay in cash right away. In case you were unaware of this discount, you should still contact your doctor and inform that you were unaware of this discount. If you offer to pay in cash right away, then perhaps your doctor might agree to a discount, which can lessen the burden of your unexpected medical expenses.
If the unexpected medical expenses that you just incurred are very high, then you might want to think about the prospect of reaching a one-time deal with your insurance provider. Some policies allow for the possibility of a one-time deal that can bring much financial benefits for the policy holder.
If your policy does allow it then you must tread carefully since only one such deal is allowed for the policy. You want to make sure that you will be saving a lot of money through your one-time deal.
There is also a small possibility that your insurance carrier might pay if the health care provider is not part of the insurance network and no other in-network options are present. The only way to be certain is by asking so go ahead and try your luck.
One of the best ways of dealing with unexpected medical expenses is to save for a rainy day. Your emergency fund will give you cash right away so that you can pay off your unexpected medical expenses easily and even avail early cash payments discounts.
Since emergency funds are meant to provide steady cash supply for necessities over a period of several months, you may have enough to pay out-of-pocket costs and the insurance deductible.
To cover unexpected medical expenses, you can also start a health savings account that can let your money grow and then provide quick funds for qualifying medical events.