When dealing with an unexpected medical bill, such as a trip to the emergency room or overnight hospital stay, one approach many consumers are taking is to negotiate the debt. This trend is likely to continue. According to a recent study, 20 percent of those 65 and older struggle to pay medical bills, and 30 percent of working adults with health insurance struggle with the same. Almost half of Americans surveyed said they had trouble paying an unexpected medical bill of more than $500.
Whether your medical debt is the result of a high-deductible, out-of-network charge or procedure not covered by insurance, these tips will help reduce your medical debt.
- Be proactive. For a planned operation, make sure your insurance company covers the cost and the doctors and medical professionals working on you are ALL in-network. Get a confirmation from your doctor in writing or through email correspondence. This will help you later if you learn an out-of-network provider was used.
- Research. Whether you are negotiating in advance or after you receive a bill, websites such as Fair Health and Healthcare Bluebook can help you determine what insurers pay in your area.
- Confirm the bill is correct. Ask your insurer if a portion of the bill will be covered or all of it. Then call the provider that sent you the bill. There may be some back and forth with this, so it is important to be patient- and persistent.
- Offer to pay cash. If you are able to pay most of the bill, offer to do so. Medical advocates say they can often get a 15 to 20 percent “prompt pay” discount this way.
- Let them know if you cannot pay. If you are on a fixed income or struggling financially, letting the provider know you are not able to pay will give them a reason to offer you a discount or be placed on a reasonable payment plan. If you cannot pay, tell them why you cannot pay. Some states require hospitals provide free or reduced care to consumers within certain income limits. Florida is one of these states.
Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.