Over 40 million Americans have a medical debt of some kind.
For many, this debt can linger for a long time, especially if medical bills are the result of a big operation or accident. This is particularly the case for individuals who lack adequate health insurance to cover these bills.
Whether you are struggling with current bills or fearing the onset of more, it is possible to manage them comfortably.
Keeping your medical bills down and avoiding debt is in your power. In this post, we'll discuss how!
1. Seek out In-Network Care
This is the most important thing you can do if you currently have medical insurance. All insurance plans identify providers that are "in network" or "out of network."
Services rendered by in-network providers will be covered by your insurance plan. Receiving treatment from out of network providers may result in unwanted and unpayable medical bills.
Of course, scenarios do arise in which you are not able to receive care from an in-network provider. Some insurance plans are limited in scope and emergencies do happen.
Nonetheless, familiarize yourself with the in-network care available to you. If you have to book an appointment or procedure, seek out this list of eligible providers first.
2. Invest in a Physical Exam
Your health is premium, despite your anxiety about medical debt. Knowing where your health stands can help you make financial decisions for the future and even choose an insurance plan.
If possible, invest in a physical exam. A generic exam can give you a quick snapshot of where you are at health-wise and provide a sense of your future medical needs.
It can even inform a change in an insurance plan, if necessary. For example, if your doctor suggests some neurological work during your physical exam, it will be important to choose the coverage that will accommodate such medical procedures.
Your primary care doctor can also give you insight into age- and gender-related medical procedures that are in your future.
3. Apply to Waive Current Bills
If you have current accumulating medical bills, don't fret. It is possible to find means to waive them.
Most hospitals, for example, enable individuals with medical debt to apply for financial assistance. This often requires patients to make a case for their financial need.
This may mean submitting tax returns or income information. It may also enable patients to produce letters of reference or complaint.
Don't be shy about asking for this type of assistance, as hospitals provide it all the time. Call your local hospital or provider to inquire about waiving or reducing current medical bills.
If you aren't able to waive all of your bills, ask if you can set up a payment plan to reduce bill totals over time.
4. Consider Grants
Yes, there are grants that you can take advantage of in order to cover insurmountable medical bills.
For example, if you are facing accumulating medical bills as you care for a special needs child, a grant can help. Many of these are offered by non-profit organizations or foundations.
Others are offered by the federal government itself. Learn more about the Administration for Children and Families grant here.
Many grant applications will be time and document intensive, requiring applicants to make a solid case for their plea for financial help. Grants are likely to be limited in scope, depending on the type of medical bills faced.
5. Know Medical Costs Beforehand
It is possible to know how much a medical procedure will cost before you even go to the clinic. Sometimes calling your doctor or clinic and asking for an estimate is all you need.
In other cases, you can look online for answers. Insurance companies can provide cost estimates for services, as well as other private organizations and consumer websites.
Identifying the costs of a procedure prior to undergoing it can eliminate any instance of the unexpected.
6. Do Only What is Medically Necessary
This goes hand in hand with the prior tip. The best way to keep medical bills down is, naturally, to sign up for procedures or services that are only medically necessary.
This is where your physician must assist. Patients may feel that a procedure is unnecessary despite their doctor's urgings.
However, if your doctor urges you to under a procedure that is strictly necessary for your well-being, it's important to listen to her injunctions.
On the other hand, it is possible for physicians to recommend services that are not crucial. Always ask when a physician provides a suggestion for care if she believes it is medically necessary.
7. Pay by Cash
If you regularly receive care from a local clinic, you could actually be doing the receptionists a service by paying in cash. Cash payments prevent an office from paying credit card transaction fees and having to file insurance claims.
As such, you may receive a discount on rendered services if you pay by cash rather than a card.
Naturally, this assumes that you have the cash on hand. However, it's an important thing to keep in mind as you anticipate future medical services.
8. Choose Generic and/or Mail Order Drugs
Generic drugs contain the same components of brand-name drugs but are offered to consumers at a much lower rate. If you receive a prescription from your doctor, ask if it is for the generic form of the drug.
Purchasing your prescription drugs through a mail-order pharmacy can also significantly reduce your costs. This is particularly the case if you order long-term supplies of pills rather than short-term.
9. Change Your Insurance
If you find that your insurance premiums are simply too high, or that your plan is insufficient for your medical needs, it may be time to change. This may mean changing your provider, or it could mean changing your type of health insurance.
At Insurdinary, we make it easy for you to browse viable insurance plans in Canada and America. Obtain quick quotes that offer you the lowest rates in the industry.
Reducing Your Medical Bills
Medical bills can be daunting, especially when you do not have the means to keep up with them. Manage your medical bills by seeking out in-network care and identifying costs of services beforehand.
Consider applying for a bill waiver or payment plan from your local hospital or clinic. Only sign up for medical services that are absolutely necessary, and ask your doctor to write you prescriptions for generic drugs.
At the end of the day, you may need to change your insurance provider to help cut down on medical bills.
At Insurdinary, we are here to help in this regard. We are committed to consumers' ability to identify the plans that work with their medical needs. Learn more about us here!