Are you looking for a way to save on medical bills?
Deb recently wrote in and asked: My family and I have had a recent deluge of medical bills and are expecting more in the near future. What advice do you have for paying down medical bills? -Deb
I posted this question on Facebook and got so many great responses. I compiled some of the most suggested responses into this post (if you’re interested, you can read all of the responses here):
1. Ask for assistance.
Apply for help from the medical company. Most hospitals have an assistance fund that is based on income. I know I qualify through our local hospital. I also get a major medication thru the manufacturer at no charge. I have to fill out an app and get my Dr to fill out the other half. Then fax in the required documents. Just ask. The worst they can do is say no. If all else fails, ask for a payment plan YOU are comfortable with. -Shandra
Ask for financial hardship paperwork. They can sometimes write off 25%-100% of the bill. I’ve used this myself years ago and my mother last year. -Amanda
Our health network has a financial assistance program. A lot of people don’t know about it. It’ll cover medically necessary procedures. You are eligible if you make under 400% of the poverty level, even if you have insurance. It may not cover everything, but it certainly helped me this past year with numerous health issues. Speak to the billing departments to ask about any help they offer. -Adelaide
For more advice, check out this post on What NOT To Do When You Get a Large Medical Bill
2. Look at every bill carefully.
My advice is to check over every single bill you receive. Make sure it’s legit and it ran through your insurance properly. Sometimes a hospital and the doctor may bill for the same service, or a service comes up out-of-network when it’s not. I have found thousands of dollars in mistakes in our bills just in the last six months. I call our insurance company frequently with questions. It’s confusing, but don’t let that stop you from asking if you see something you’re unsure about. -Susanna
My daughter’s ear tubes came back with a $3000 out of pocket. I always ask for a detailed bill and have a coding book and it had been coded plastic surgery. Really? Told a friend to go through theirs line by line and they caught thousands of dollars in discrepancies. Sometimes human error input of the details makes healthcare bills crazy. – Teresa
For more advice, read It Pays to Review Your Bills.
3. Talk to the billing office.
Call and talk to every office that bills you. Been there done that and after talking to each office and letting them know the magnitude of the situation, we were able to come up with a plan of payment. As long as we payed the agreed upon amount consistently they were okay with it. And I’m talking $25 to each office at most. Each time we paid one off, that amount was added to the next smallest bill and kept at it like that. -Terri
Definitely call the billing company, let them know your specific situation and see if they can lower the payment or adjust for a lower payment plan. One medical facility wiped out a $400 balance when I called to see if we could get on a payment plan. You never know what they can or will do, unless you ask. -Bridie
Go into the financial office in person and talk to them. Bring your tax return, pay stubs, and your budget. They are there to help you. -Jessica
If you don’t have the funds to pay it off when you call, I would speak to them about a low monthly payment. Then, as you get the funds, call again and ask if you were to pay today if they could give a discount on the amount owed. -Alicia
For more ideas, check out this post on How We Save Money on Health Care Costs.
4. Ask for a discount.
If you have any cash, call the companies and tell them you are trying to determine which bills to pay with the cash you have. Ask about a discount. I think we got 20 percent knocked off one bill. Then, ask about a payment plan. We also discovered when we requested detailed medical records that doctors we never saw in the hospital were charging for services. It didn’t impact the amount we owed but after alerting the billing company to the errors (and getting no results and they were very belligerent) I started calling the physician group. Took me a while to find phone numbers for principles but I think they were taken aback by the errors. -Kim
Call and ask for cash discounts. Our hospital has given several people I know lower prices when they offer to pay cash. -Shannon
I have had a lot of success calling and offering a one-time cash payment for a reasonable amount. My husband is currently paying for OP surgery; they gave him a price prior to surgery that was 2.5 times less than what it actually was. They haven’t been receptive yet to a lump payment, so he’s paying them $50/month for a year and then will call and try it again. -Jennifer
We’ve been able to consolidate all of our medical bills into one large sum and make monthly payments on it. Even if it’s $20 a month, it’s something. There’s no interest (at least where I live), and it doesn’t hurt your credit. -Katie
For more ideas, read this post on Cutting Down on Health Care Costs.
5. Don’t pay until you’ve verified everything.
Don’t start paying until you’ve verified all charges and confirmed your insurance has paid its part. Then you can call each one if you have the funds and make an offer to settle. You might end up settling or getting a discount. Then if you can’t pay in full set up a payment plan that you can manage. If you can’t pay $100 a month tell them in no uncertain terms that isn’t possible. Ask them what you can do to decrease the payments. -Julie
If you have insurance make sure all doctors and hospitals are in network otherwise some insurance won’t pay. You can also find out the cost of the procedure (sometimes, not always). If you have a deductible, have you met it? Have you met your out of pocket, copay? Depending on procedure/insurance and other things some don’t go toward totals. And maybe you’ve met your deductible/oop and insurance will cover the rest. -Melodie
Remember that huge medical bills may qualify you for a tax write off. Of course, that doesn’t help you in the moment but you may have a windfall come tax time when you can catch up financially as a whole. -Malinda
Do you agree with these suggestions? Do you have any advice or personal experience to share?