For many, the cost of medical bills is too expensive, even for those who are insured. Uninsured people are more likely to report significant medical debt, which causes them to cut spending on food, clothing, and other basics.
Healthcare costs so much because the cost of specialty medicines continues to grow, doctors (and nurses) are paid more, and hospitals aim for a positive financial balance. Even though it’s a mass affliction, people are ashamed of their medical debt. The consequences can be drastic if you get a surprise medical bill and there’s no way of paying it on time.
You’ll face late fees and interest if you do nothing and don’t pay your medical bill. You might even be forced to deal with debt collectors. The good news is there are ways to deal with hefty medical bills, even if you’re on a small income. Please continue reading to find out more.
Check The Bill for Coding Errors, Data Entry Mistakes, And Duplicate Charges
Doctors deploy codes to show what care you received during your visit. More often than not, healthcare procedures are miscoded, increasing the overall cost. For instance, instead of an X-ray, a physician goes for an MRI exam. Coding errors can result in hundreds of thousands or more in lost revenue.
If it happens intentionally, the mistake is considered “upcoding”, a fraudulent way to make money from patient visits. If you didn’t get an itemized bill from your doctor, ask for one. This way, you can see what service/product you’ve been charged for and what your insurer has paid.
If you believe your medical bill is an error, reach out to the treating physician to discuss your concerns and request an adjustment. Correcting the error by changing the necessary information is crucial to fix the claim. The insurance company will include a reject reason code to explain the benefits.
Other mistakes include errors in your insurance number and billing the wrong insurance company. File an appeal and have your medical records and any additional important information. Lastly, it’s possible to be billed for the same procedure/treatment/testing. Even if mistakes happen, you shouldn’t be on the hook for paying twice.
Ask For a Reduced Fee And/or Negotiate the Payment Amount
Contact the healthcare institution’s billing department and request a lower balance. If you didn’t have insurance at the time of treatment, you were billed at a steeper rate. A reduced fee may apply if you’re on a small income, but you must prove the medical bill is causing you financial hardship.
If the billing department refuses to offer you a discount, and you can’t afford the amount due, learn about the clinic’s appeal process and file an appeal. Complete all the forms required and submit a formal letter requesting the appeal, making sure to include your name, contact information, claim number, and health insurance ID number.
Your medical bill may be negotiable before it goes to debt collectors. To win your case, you need evidence that the care your physician provided doesn’t align with the services you’ve been charged for. If the billing department isn’t willing to budge, you can take matters to court.
Start the process as early as possible because it’s difficult, if not impossible, to negotiate payment terms when the bill is close to being due. Negotiating might be complex, but using hard-researched numbers will help you obtain the desired outcome. Be proactive and compare medical costs. It’s that information that will help you obtain a reduction.
You Can Sue to Recover the Money – And If You Win, You Can Protect Your Income
If you determine your medical bill is inaccurate and not fairly priced, fight back. Only a small minority of cases go to trial, so the lawyer representing the hospital/clinic will most likely call to make a deal with you. If someone harmed you by accident or by recklessness, start a personal injury lawsuit and recover financial compensation for the losses you’ve suffered.
The amount of money you can recover for your medical bills depends on the extent of your injuries. Whiplash injuries, for instance, can result in large settlements. How much you can receive if experiencing whiplash in the UK depends on the circumstances that have led to the pain and suffering.
You’ll be happy to know that many lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they don’t charge any fees for their services unless and until they win the case. The total amount owed (plus interest, fees, and charges) is deducted from the compensation.
The person found at fault in court will be ordered to pay you losses (damages). It might take some time to reach a settlement with the other side, and you’ll need to make sure your medical bill is paid until then. Perhaps your family or friends can lend you some money. If you win the case, you’ll be compensated for any future expenses resulting from your whiplash injury.
Turn To an Assistance Program for Help
Many healthcare institutions offer financial assistance plans, but help can be hard to obtain. Keep in mind that the facility can’t ask for your tax returns, proof of citizenship, monthly bills and expenses, etc. unless it could help explain your financial situation.
Numerous nonprofit organizations offer case management and educational resources. To leverage these services, you must be suffering from a chronic, life-threatening, or debilitating disease. In some cases, it might be necessary to file for bankruptcy to get the debt discharged. Nevertheless, it’s not a decision you should take lightly. It should be the last resort.
To sum up, medical bills are inevitable expenses. A routine, planned procedure or an emergency medical treatment can lead to a hefty bill. The best-case scenario is that you can pay the balance without much difficulty. In the worst-case scenario, the medical bill will stifle you financially.
If it’s not able to collect your debt, the healthcare institution might decide to sue you. Tempting as it may be to jump at a quick fix for your medical debt (or ignore it completely), doing so will cost you more in the long run.