Managing Medical Debt: Part 2

Bankruptcy Attorney

In an earlier post we discussed how medical bills are one the best easiest types of debt to manage in an Ohio bankruptcy. Whether you have recently had your medical bills resolved or have been lucky enough to dodge high medical debt balances, here are a few ways to keep medical bills from piling up:

1. Review insurance coverage options — health insurance benefits can be confusing and many people end up with unnecessary charges for being out of network, not meeting deductibles or failing to ask about co-pays. It is important to know exactly what is covered, what payments are expected at the time of services and who are network providers. Consider making changes to your premiums or deductibles, usually a decrease in one will increase the others; so if you lower your monthly costs be sure to expect a higher out of pocket in the end.

2. Start a medical savings — prioritizing a savings account is the  mark of a smart money manager. If you have a history of being unable to cover medical bills as they come in or are suffering a chronic illness medical savings account is one way to help offset unexpected costs. Allocate a portion of your income or benefit funds to a savings account that you can use to cover bills.

3. Negotiate charges beforehand — many providers won’t advertise the fact that services are negotiable. In fact, negotiating rates and fees of services beforehand can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This is especially true for hospitals and surgical procedures. Prepaying a portion of these negotiated services before the service date can save you even more. Most providers are more willing to lower fees if they can have a better assurance of payment, such as prepayment or automatic payment options.

4. Get notes and appeal charges — all medical debts are eligible for an appeal. If you feel there is a discrepancy or unnecessary charges on your bill, dispute it in writing. It helps to have a copy of the doctor’s orders or notes from your file to support your case.  Write a letter disputing charges and send a copy to both your provider and the insurance company. The appeals process can be tedious and there is no guarantee of compliance, but it can be the last ditch effort that pays off in the end.

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