Medical emergencies and procedures are stressful enough as it is, but they become even more overwhelming when you’re saddled with big bills afterward. Even simple procedures or tests can come with astronomical price tags that most people simply can’t afford. In fact, health issues and expenses are the number one reason people declare bankruptcy in the US. Health insurance should cover some of your costs, but in many cases, patients or their families are still left with large bills to pay off. However, there are some things you can do to prevent or pay off these bills.
Apply for Medicaid
Medicaid is a government financial assistance program for low income individuals and families. It is available for children, pregnant adults, individuals with disabilities, and seniors. The Affordable Care Act expanded to the program to apply to more low-income individuals. You can apply for Medicaid through your state, though it’s important to remember that each state handles it slightly differently. You can usually even find Medicaid dentists that accept Medicaid for dental procedures for adults and children.
Work Out a Payment Plan
Ignoring bills never works, and it could damage your credit score. While you may not be able to pay big bills off immediately, many doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities will allow you to set up payment plans and pay off a little bit of your bill each month. This keeps your bill from being sent to collections agencies or from impacting your credit score. Payment plans show both medical and financial institutions that you’re responsible and that you’re taking care of your bill properly.
In many cases, you may be able to negotiate for a lower bill altogether. First, take a look at the bill you were sent. It should be itemized, but if it’s not, you can request an itemized bill. Go through the itemized bill and make sure that each charge is accurate. It’s not uncommon for overworked hospitals to accidentally charge for more medication than was administered or for duplicate tests when only one was done. Next, you can ask for discounts. For example, many hospitals or doctors may offer discounts based on paying quickly or on financial hardships. Always start negotiations as quickly as possible after you get your bill. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to negotiate.
Medical bills can be expensive and stressful, but that doesn’t mean that you should try to avoid necessary medical care in order to avoid them. By following these tips and utilizing your health insurance, you can make even large medical bills manageable.