It’s no secret that US citizens spend more than any other country on medical bills. For many Americans, healthcare costs can lead to medical debt. Anyone who has ever had a medical bill knows paying it is no easy task. Although there are many different methods for paying medical bills, not all are viable options.
If you have been struggling with these bills, there are a few things that you can do to try and get a handle on the situation. Below you’ll find some tips on how to save on medical bills.
1) Use In-Network Providers
- Find out what health insurance plans you are covered under and compare their costs.
- If you have to choose between a primary care physician and a specialist, go with the primary care doctor first. In case you need to see someone else later on, you’ll already have a good relationship with your doctor and will get treated quicker.
- Call your insurance company or government website to find out what in-network doctors are available in your area.
- When unsure whether or not your provider is part of your plan’s network, call the number for customer service.
- Whenever you need to go to the emergency room for an injury or other problem, ask yourself if it would be better to call your doctor instead. You’ll start the treatment process immediately without waiting in the emergency room.
- If you’re going in for a scheduled surgery, call ahead and find out if there is anyone else who would do the same procedure as your surgeon. Sometimes, surgeons are more expensive than other doctors who can do the same.
2) Ask About Options
The easiest first step is to look at the different options available for paying your medical bills. If you have been working with a provider through an HMO, PPO, or another insurer, they will likely offer some payment plan or credit card option. Some of these plans are more favorable than others, and obviously, you should look into each one to see how they work.
Many people in this situation will choose not to make their payments and opt to accumulate medical debt. You should always pay what you can because, otherwise, they’ll keep sending invoices, and eventually, it will affect your credit score.
3) Pay in Cash
There is one way to lower your bills without changing a thing: simply paying for them in cash. As with most things, you have to pay for healthcare depending on your payment method.
If you pay with cash instead of insurance, your out-of-pocket costs will generally be lower. It won’t be free, but you’ll save a lot compared to paying with insurance.
Those who opt to pay in cash have one other advantage: they don’t need to file a claim as part of their payment method. In other words, you will never have to pay paperwork fees or risk being denied health care because of an unjustified claim denial (UDOL).
4) Ask for a Discount
One way to save is by negotiating your healthcare costs with insurance providers. It is in the insurance providers’ interest to deal with you because it is more cost-efficient than denying your claim. It would help if you asked for a discount when contacting your insurance company about your bill, as this will probably help you get lower payments for paying off your account.
Inform yourself about what you need to know about medical care prices to ask for a discount. Take time to compare prices at pharmacies and clinics to save money on medicine.
Another way to save money on medicine might be by buying discount medicine from pharmacies that sell these discounted medicines. Look for these drug stores online and check their reviews before purchasing anything. Remember that such pharmacies may only offer a discount when buying in bulk.
5) Get Medication Delivered by Mail
Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t have the time to go out and get a prescription? Sure, you could call your doctor’s office and set up an appointment for later, but then there’s the matter of transportation.
A new service allows people without prescriptions to buy medications online that are shipped right to their door. It’s a convenient alternative for customers who don’t need to make special appointments or be home at a particular time.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of drug plan you have. You should know if your insurer, Medicare benefit, or other third-party payer covers your prescription drugs. If you do have coverage and a mail-order pharmacy service covers you, there’s a huge chance you can save money by ordering your medications online.
6) Research Service Costs
Medical bills can be scary to face. But by researching the service costs beforehand, you can avoid any nasty surprises.
Overhead costs are the most critical numbers to scrutinize in a hospital’s financial records, such as utilities, medical supplies and equipment, information technology, and some capital expenses. These usually all account for 60% to 80% of hospitals’ budgets. Hospitals are big corporations, so they pay corporate taxes, and those taxes can eat up more than 20% of the hospital’s net income.
Next, look at the cost per service: the amount hospitals pay for each procedure and diagnostic test. It’s also essential to search for the “allowable” rates per procedure and diagnostic test.
There may be a time when you have to pick between two hospitals on what’s more critical to you-low cost or a good doctor. It is where it will help to know “allowable” rates, which are the maximum payments Medicare will pay for each procedure.
Before undergoing a procedure, find out if your insurance covers it-and if not, ask how much it will cost. You’ll be able to see the big picture of what you’re getting into before you agree to it.
7) Review Medical Bills for Errors
One of the biggest frustrations people endure is when the insurance or doctor’s office refuses to pay out a fair balance. Finding mistakes before they happen could save you from this problem. The first step to ensuring that you get everything covered by your insurance is to become educated on how medical billing works.
Medical billing involves a series of codes that would be very difficult for most people to understand. These codes will be used on all paperwork, bills, and case reports when dealing with your insurance. As a patient, you should have access to these codes for what happened during your visit.
The most common mistakes on medical bills are when they repeat a charge on the invoice or give the wrong date for a procedure. These things happen more often than they should and can add to a massive payout.
8) Open a Health Savings Account
There are ways to help avoid the unexpected and hefty bills from hospital visits by opening a health savings account (HSA). An HSA is a particular type of savings account that allows you to save up money tax-free. It means that your contributions do not get exposed to tax, and you can keep your money without being taxed when you withdraw it. Since the money does not get exposed to tax while in there, you can save more than you would have been able to if you had tax exposure.
Health Savings Accounts are only available if you enroll in a high deductible health insurance plan. The high deductible is usually $1,250 per person or $2,500 per family. They can also deduct the amounts they pay by contributing to employees’ HSAs (and if you think about it, that makes sense because you can’t make contributions until tax time). HSAs may also be eligible for a tax credit.
9) Itemize Medical Bills
When you itemize your bills, you can see exactly how much you’re paying for each treatment and service. It helps the insurer know what they will have to pay out in claims. When you itemize, it shows the insurance company what they are receiving from the care provider and how much of that money goes to pay for your care.
You may be paying for things that your insurance company should be paying. Itemizing can help you get the best possible rates from your insurance company, showing you where you have been overpaying. If you find treatments and services on your medical bills that your insurance isn’t paying, you should do something about it.
It is wise to avoid making hasty decisions when medical fees are involved. Always consider the potential financial drawbacks of any treatment before deciding to cut down on your medical debt. If you’re looking for guidance on how to navigate medical debt, please contact Consumer Protection Group. We specialize in providing logical and helpful solutions to people in debt, because we know how daunting it can be.