by Benjamin Smith.
Raise your hand if you enjoy receiving medical bills! I would assume that I am safe to say that the vast majority of people do not enjoy these. Truth is, these bills can cause an onslaught of emotions such as: fear, anxiety, stress, frustration, anger, and many more.
Medical debt at times can feel like a muffin top. You may be eating somewhat healthy foods and being moderately active, but you just can’t seem to drop the weight. The most important thing in this circumstance is to pair healthy eating with consistent physical activity.
The same can be done with medical debt. The pairing of your desire to get out of debt and the practice of these 6 Pro Tips can help you to see a steady decrease to your overall debt in a short period of time.
#1 Know your coverage
Robert Goff, senior board member of the charity, RIP Medical Debt, recommends that you start by making yourself aware of the current coverage that your health insurance provides you. Not all health insurance plans are the same.
Variations exist with a variety of different deductibles, copay costs, etc. This research can be done by directly contacting your health insurance provider and walking through your specific coverage plan.
It is beneficial to do this even before receiving medical attention to ensure that you have a plan of repayment if you have the need to finance part or all of your medical expenses.
#2 Address the limitations
Once you have an understanding of the coverage that your health insurance provides, Goff recommends looking into the inevitable “limitations” that almost all plans have. Some of the most common limitations include:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Cosmetic surgeries
- Non-traditional treatments
- Home care
- Mental health treatment
Something to be aware of no matter what medical assistance you are receiving is all of the individuals/specialists that will be involved. For example, if you were to be hospitalized and have an operation, there are many people that would be involved. The following is a list of some to consider:
- Assistant surgeon
- EKG reader
- EEG reader
Does your insurance cover the costs incurred by all of these people? If not, do they have any options that appear to be better for you? Make sure that you do your research to avoid spending far more than is needed.
#3 Assess your “Need”
What is your need? Often times we suffer from ailments that are likely to pass on their own but we grow impatient and feel the need for immediate assistance. This bad habit is one of the major causes of medical debt today. Some questions to ask yourself when making a decision regarding your health include:
- Do I really need to see a doctor?
- Do I need to go to the ER?
- Do I need to go right now?
- Will this worsen if I don’t go?
If you answer “yes” to these, or any other similar questions, do yourself a favor and analyze WHY.
If after your analysis you still feel that you need to receive medical attention, look into the costs that will be incurred at the different institutions that are available to you. If you need urgent care, go to a facility that offers lower pricing. You should also check to see if they’re in your network and avoid moving forward with referrals for further care.
#4 Pay On Time
Though this should be a “given”, many individuals struggle to make payments on time. In part this can be attributed to a lack of priority. As medical bills can be expensive, they can cause stress leaving people with little desire to think about them.
One great way to combat this is through the use of Autopay. You can set up automatic payments through your online banking. When looking at your bank account, it can become stressful attempting to see how much you will have by the end of the month. If you have made it a priority to pay off your medical debt and have committed to specific monthly payments, set it up so that right after you receive your paycheck, your monthly payment is made. That way it has been taken care of and you know exactly how much you have to work with for your other monthly expenses.
#5 Debt Priority
If you have more than one source of debt, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! In 2018 it was estimated that over 80% of the population had accumulated some type of debt. Common types include: credit cards, student loans, auto, medical, mortgages, and personal loans.
When you are balancing a number of different debts, it is important to work on prioritizing your payments based on the payment plans (interest rates, interest-free periods, and monthly payments). As you analyze each of your debts, figure out which of them has the highest interest rate. If you are not paying this debt off, you will be accumulating a significant amount of “extra” debt from the compound interest.
If you do not establish priorities in your debt repayment, you may become frustrated, give up, and end up paying significantly more than you need to. Do your homework!
#6 Work with your doctor
Doctors like to help people right? Most people may only belief that this stereotype only applies to actual medical treatment. The truth is, doctors for the most part want to be your advocate for getting your medical treatments paid for.
Before receiving treatment, make sure to check and see if what you plan to have done will be covered by your insurance provider at the facility you would like to use. Once you have found a facility/doctor that accepts your insurance coverage, you can feel a bit more comfortable proceeding.
When you receive your medical bill, if it is higher than you are prepared to pay in the moment, don’t be afraid to reach out to the treatment provider to find out if any of the costs can be waived. It is possible that you are being charged for medications that you are not using or for treatments that were not given. 9 times out of 10 providers will find a way to work with you to reduce the amount.
If you cannot find a solution with your provider, it could be a good option to seek out assistance from a Healthcare Financing company to establish a payment plan. Here is a list of Healthcare Financing companies that you may want to consider.
The most important thing throughout this entire process is making sure that you are healthy and happy. You need to be healthy in order to successfully earn the money you will need to pay your medical bills.
Working with people at times can be intimidating, but if you go into it with desire to find common ground and compromise, it is likely you will be successful. If at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying!
If there is a chance you can avoid medical debt and maintain your health, DO IT! The stress brought by debt can be exhausting, but if you put these Pro Tips into practice, you will be able to find solutions and pay of your debt consistently and efficiently.
Benjamin Smith acts as Chief Editor of a Healthcare Financing Blog for BestCompany and loves educating people on ways to finance their medical expenses.