Americans were struggling to pay their medical bills. It’s not surprising, a three-day hospital stay could result in a $30,000 medical bill.
About 28% of Americans are grappling with medical debts of at least $10,000. And at least 54% of Americans have admitted to completely defaulting on medical bills that financially overwhelmed them.
Collectively, Americans may owe as much as $81 billion in medical debts.
If you are overwhelmed with medical bills, here are four options to consider.
Healthcare.gov is the federally sponsored health insurance marketplace where you can purchase affordable health insurance. You may even qualify for free government-sponsored medical insurance based on your finances and ability to pay.
You will have to apply for such medical coverage according to state of residence and accompanying deadlines. Also be warned that medical coverage is basic for those with low or no income.
But, it’s better than nothing.
Ask about paying the insurance rate
If your medical procedure was not covered by your medical insurance, ask about the relative insurance rate for your bill.
Relative to what the medical facility charges individual payees for the procedure the insurance rate may actually be cheaper. And you won’t know if you don’t ask.
Renegotiate your medical bill
Call the hospital’s billing office and ask to renegotiate your medical bill or payment terms.
The point is that your hospital’s billing office is more likely to work with you on renegotiating your medical debt than not. Especially when one out of every two patients defaults on their debt.
Ask if any discount is available. Inquire if payments can be delayed temporarily until you are able to pay. Also, ask if there is a discount for paying in cash or if you qualify for a zero-interest payment plan.
Don’t wait until the last moment. Explain your personal situation and consult with the medical billing office as early as possible in order to increase your potential for payment renegotiation.
Non-profit patient advocate organizations
A patient advocate is a medical expert, bureaucrat, or former medical industry professional who helps patients in debt navigate medical industry bureaucracy.
A patient advocate will call insurance companies and hospital billing offices to negotiate on your behalf. They will also inform you of your rights as a patient and all of your options relative to your situation.
The Patient Advocate Foundation is a non-profit organization that will match you to a free patient advocate in your area, if applicable.
Look for non-profit patient advocates near you. Private patient advocates can charge anywhere between $100 to $500 per hour.