Five Tips for Taking Control of Medical Debt

You aren’t alone if you’re dealing with medical debt. Even if you have medical insurance, you can still be left with thousands of dollars that have to be paid.

It’s such a prevalent problem that over 30 percent of American workers have medical debt. Over half of them are dealing with so much debt that they default on their payments.

Having medical debt can cause a lot of stress, ironically affecting your health for the worse. Don’t let it take control of your life! There are things you can do to make dealing with debt more manageable so you can sleep at night.

Dig Into Your Medical Bills

Before you do anything else, you should dig into the details of your medical bills. That includes looking at the summary of benefits supplied by your insurance company, as well as the actual bills that are sent by your doctor.

Medical billing companies are utilized by offices and providers when determining the prices for services and procedures. Mistakes can happen, which means you may have been overcharged or double charged for supplies, care, or the procedure itself.

See if there are any repeat charges on your bill and figure out what each item represents. If you aren’t sure what is being billed, don’t be afraid to call and ask. This one simple act could end up saving you a lot of money if you uncover a problem that wasn’t spotted before it was sent to your insurance company.

Become an Expert on Your Insurance Policy

Medical insurance isn’t the easiest thing to understand. Because it can be so complex, many people avoid trying to understand it altogether. That’s a bad idea. If you don’t understand your policy, you could be electing to receive care that isn’t covered, which could result in a big bill that you didn’t expect to receive in the mail.

Become an expert on your insurance policy so you know which appointments, procedures, medications, and hospitals are covered. A few details about your policy to understand include:

  • The co-insurance you and your insurance company are responsible for
  • Your deductible for covered services
  • Coordination of benefits if you have more than one policy
  • Out-of-pocket maximum you can pay for medical care every year
  • What counts as a pre-existing condition
  • Doctors, clinics, and hospitals that are considered in-network

Make Payment Arrangements

If you have the money to pay the medical bill when it arrives in the mail, by all means, pay the bill in full! Just don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to pay the entire bill right away.

It’s easy to put the bill out of sight and out of mind if you don’t have the money, but that’s the worst thing you can do. You definitely don’t want your bill going to collections.

Instead, call the billing department and make payment arrangements that work for you. Nearly every hospital or clinic is happy to work with you to create a payment schedule that works with your budget.

Hire a Medical Billing Advocate

If you’re struggling to figure out what’s in your medical bills, if you just can’t seem to wrap your head around your insurance policy, or if you think something doesn’t seem right, but you don’t know how to go about fixing it, you may want to consider hiring a medical billing advocate.

A medical billing advocate has experience decoding medical bills, so they can look for duplicate charges, unreasonable charges, and even fraud. They can compare the charges to your insurance policy, identifying potential areas where your insurance should pay more, and they can work on your behalf to reduce or eliminate inappropriate charges.

Consider Financial Assistance, if It’s Available to You

If you’re really struggling to pay your bills, even if you are able to make payment arrangements, there’s a possibility that financial assistance may be available to you.

For example, based on your income, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid. If you’re dealing with medical expenses on behalf of your child, they may qualify for Medicaid, even if you do not.

Other types of programs that may be able to help include:

  • Benefits for People with Disabilities
  • NORD’s Patient Assistance Program
  • Prescription Drug Assistance Programs

Medical bills don’t have to rule your life. Even if you can’t pay for your bills in full, there are plenty of things you can do to take control of what you owe, understand your situation, and make strides towards getting out of debt.

Leave a Comment: