This is a contributed post from Ellie Jo on Healthcare.
We all know that healthcare bills can be astronomical. One simple visit to see a doctor can cost you your entire monthly budget (or more!). This expense turns many people away from seeking out the healthcare they need. Having to make this choice can affect you for a long time, and many people struggle to pay for their healthcare needs for years on end.
However, there are quite a few ways to eliminate these huge costs from your healthcare. It often won’t feel easy, and there’s a bit of legwork to do, but it’s totally possible! As with all other bills you’ll have to pay in your life there are services and techniques you can employ to lower the costs. We’ve detailed some of the best below for you.
Look Into The Average Price
The first thing to do, before even attending a doctor’s appointment, is to look into the cost of the initial consultation itself. What is the average price in your area, or a little further afield? Similarly, if you’re a little further down the line of your diagnosis and treatment, make sure you look up the average price of the operation or medication you’re about to go under.
Why do you need to do this? To make sure you’ve got some power on your side. The more you know about what it usually costs, the better you can negotiate down the price if need be. You can confidently talk to the healthcare provider with these figures. It’s hard to issue a bill without a discount when a patient knows they can get something cheaper elsewhere!
Of course, it might take some practice to do this. You can also get in touch with a healthcare advocate in your area that can do the talking for you. These people will hold the front line against a healthcare provider for you, and help to ensure you pay the price you deserve to.
Ask About A Payment Plan
The next thing to do is ask about paying in installments. It can be extremely difficult to pay upfront when your bill is more than a few hundred dollars (and you have no insurance), and you’ll need time to accumulate these funds. So be outright about that need. Inquire about payment plans, and whether or not they can be personalized per patient.
Most payment plans take place over a course of months. Split the money owed into equal amounts. But keep in mind that taking out a payment plan could mean bad news for your all around credit score. Leaving a payment plan for too long, especially without any money paid into it, can mean the hospital in question hands your account over to a credit agency. In doing so, the bill is much more likely to fall onto your record.
Research Financial Aid Programs
Alongside being able to pay via a payment plan, you may also be entitled to financial assistance at the same time. Be sure to ask about this before paying a bill, or setting up your payment plan. If you qualify for monthly payments, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to tap into the hospital’s very own assistance program.
If not, there are other financial aid programs out there that you can turn to. Of course, you can see if you’re eligible for Medicare. Also check out the Extra Help program as an extension of this. If you don’t qualify for Medicare, you may end up qualifying for Medicaid instead. The rules and regulations of using this insurance company vary from state to state. You’ll have to look into it according to your own government legislation.
Get Compensation When You Need It
Sometimes the doctor you turn to makes a careless mistake with your case, or the nurse that administers treatment mishandles your needs. Either way, you’re left dealing with the potential trauma that arises from this situation, as well as an ongoing need for further treatment. What are you to do? First, make sure you’re aware of the malpractice that took place. Were you misdiagnosed? Were you given the wrong kind of medication? Did an error occur during surgery or another type of treatment?
Write down as much as you know beforehand. Before you put the ordeal to bed and simply try to pay up, get in touch with some medical malpractice attorneys and see if you have a right to compensation. It’s not fair to simply pay for a treatment bill that left you worse off. Working with an attorney may enable you to claim back money that’ll put you in a much better position to get the care you deserve.
Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
As we mentioned earlier, sometimes you’ll have to negotiate with a healthcare professional or two. The idea of doing that alone can be scary. In the moment it can feel next to impossible to manage. However, if it cuts off a good chunk of your bill, or allows you to pay monthly and save your budget, it’s necessary!
Make sure you walk into a doctor’s office armed with facts and statistics. Also make sure you know the person to call to ask for a discount as a result. If you can’t do this face to face or on the phone, you can always send emails to enquire and follow up about your choices. And there’s always a reliable advocate nearby that will be able to stand on your behalf.
If you’ve just received a healthcare bill that you know you’ll struggle to pay, don’t let yourself panic. There’s a lot you can do in a situation like this. This includes applying for aid, paying bit by bit, and ultimately negotiating for lower prices with the healthcare provider themselves. Take some time and do your own research into these methods, and don’t let yourself stray from being able to see a doctor again.