Last Updated: January 23, 2009
Medical bills can seem overwhelming, but there are things you can do to try to lessen the burden, according to a recent article written in collaboration by Kaiser Health News and The Washington Post. The following tips were suggested in that article:
- Promptly review your bills. Make sure you're not being billed twice for the same thing or paying a charge that should be covered by insurance. Billing errors are common, and patients are often stuck with charges that are not their responsibility.
- Make sure you've exhausted all payment sources including insurance from current or former employers or a former spouse's policy. If your income is low, you may be eligible for charity care. Some hospital patients are not told they qualify until they ask.
- If you don't qualify for charity care, request a discount, such as the fee Medicare or Medicaid pays. This may be 50 percent lower than the "sticker" price uninsured patients are charged. Many doctors and hospitals will negotiate and set up payment plans, sometimes with no interest.
- Avoid using a credit card and do not mortgage your house to pay medical bills. Charging expenses to a credit card means you lose the ability to negotiate with a provider. Obtaining a second mortgage to pay medical bills could result in foreclosure if you fall behind.
- Never ignore medical bills or assume they will go away. They won't, and failing to deal with them is likely to make matters worse.
In addition, please visit the Plan for Your Health Web site, a public education program from the FPA and Aetna. Learn more about information you need to make health benefits and financial choices.