live in care costs

Guide to Paying Your Medical Bills

As healthcare costs continue to soar, medical treatment, even a small one, can strain your budget and financial planning. The bill will be your responsibility if you don’t have health insurance. However, even if you have medical insurance, you may still be liable for a co-payment, or if your plan doesn’t cover the treatment you underwent, you may be responsible for the entire bill.

Steps to Take Before Paying Your Medical Expenses

Many folks find having an unpaid bill stressful, but before you rush to settle it, you must take some time to go over it and evaluate your options, especially if it is above your budget. 

It will be helpful to know what is the minimum monthly payment on medical bills, but there is no flat rate that you need to pay. Instead, the minimum monthly payment is typically based on how much your bill is and your affordability. 

Before looking for ways to finance your medical bill, you must do the following:

Study Your Bill 

It is shocking how common mistakes on medical bills are. It is hard to pinpoint precisely how many accounts contain errors because the range is as wide as between 7% to 80%, which means that there is a large probability that your medical bill has errors.

It’s best to go through the bill as soon as you receive it so that it is easier to remember the details of your procedure, the medication you took, etc. 

Look at the explanation of benefits (EOB). Make sure there are no duplicate entries or services on the bill you didn’t receive. If there are medical codes that you don’t recognize, ask the healthcare provider’s billing manager for an explanation. 

If you have health insurance, compare what you need to pay for with what the insurance has covered. Make sure that the treatments the insurance is responsible for are not on your bill and that the healthcare provider has not charged both you and your insurance provider for the same service. 

Negotiate to Reduce the Amount

Unlike other bills, you can negotiate your medical account after you’ve received it. Sometimes, hospitals or healthcare providers invoice patients for a higher amount, called the chargemaster rate. This amount is typically used as a starting point for insurance companies to negotiate down to a lower amount.

You may also negotiate based on your income or ask for a discount. For example, you can ask for a 30% discount if you pay the whole bill immediately or within one to two months.

Often, healthcare providers find it more cost-effective to offer a discount and have the patient settle their bill immediately than have to spend valuable time and resources chasing up unpaid invoices. 

Medical Bill Advocate

Suppose you’ve had major surgery, received long-term treatment, or had a lengthy hospital stay. In that case, you are probably facing a hefty medical bill, regardless of whether or not you have medical insurance. 

In this case, it is worth getting the help of a medical bill advocate. A medical bill advocate is an expert in deciphering medical bills. They can pick up mistakes that a non-specialist would likely miss, and they have more profound knowledge and understanding of the prices of medical procedures, medication, and other medical costs, so they will know if what you’ve been charged is excessive. 

They are also fantastic negotiators with experience working with healthcare providers and can negotiate a lower bill on your behalf.

Expect to pay the medical bill advocate around 30% of the amount you saved. 

Payment Options

Once you’re certain your bill is accurate, and you’ve negotiated an amount you’re comfortable with, you can look for ways to pay the bill. 

Payment Plan

The easiest option is to work directly with your healthcare provider’s billing department. If they can’t offer you a discount, or if they have given you a discount but still can’t afford to settle the reduced account in full, you can ask them to work out a payment plan. 

A payment plan involves taking the total amount you owe and breaking it up into monthly instalments until the amount you owe is paid off. How much each instalment will be and the length of time you must pay it off depends on the amount you owe and the terms of your agreement. 

Often, your healthcare provider will give you a timeframe to pay off your bill interest-free. If you don’t pay it off within this term, you might be liable for interest and fees. 

Medical Credit Card

A medical credit card is a type of credit specifically designed to pay medical bills. You must be aware that not all medical credit cards are the same. Each medical card may cover different procedures and treatments. For example, one medical card may cover in-hospital treatments and surgery, while others may be used for elective or cosmetic work. Also, your healthcare provider may accept some medical credit cards but not others. You must find out beforehand if the medical credit card you are applying for will cover your bill and if your healthcare provider accepts it. 

You can apply for a medical credit card at your healthcare provider’s office, and, depending on your card’s terms, you have between six to twenty-four months interest-free. It is best to pay off your medical credit card within the interest-free period as the interest rate after that can be high. 

Personal Loan

It is often cheaper to take out a personal loan than to pay your medical account with your credit card. This is particularly true if the bill is high and you need a few years to settle it since if you don’t pay off your credit card balance every month, the interest is high, which can affect your credit score.

If your credit rating is high, which is a score above 650, you can secure a personal loan with good terms and a low-interest rate. This will make it easier to pay off your debt as your loan repayment terms can be between two to seven years. 

Applying for a loan is easy – you can either go to your bank and apply for a quick loan in person or apply for an online loan. It usually takes one to seven days for the bank to process your loan, so it is a good idea to plan ahead. 

References

 

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