How to handle a medical bill under $10,000
1. The first thing to determine is do you owe the bill?
If you have insurance coverage cross reference the bill you get from the provider with the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) in your health insurance portal. Do the two agree?
An understanding of your insurance benefits will help here. Be an informed consumer and understand your deductible, out-of-pocket maximum and where you can receive care.
If you don’t know these things, learn them.
If you don’t have insurance, ask the provider for a self-pay discount. Chances are you’re being billed their full retail price and no one pays full retail in healthcare. The system is set up to be discounted to insurance companies who pay a wholesale price, not full retail. Ask the billing office for that discounted rate or at least a percentage off for paying cash, especially if you can pay off the balance in a lump sum payment.
2. If you can’t pay the balance in full ask for a monthly payment plan.
Most medical bills can be paid at 0% interest so paying it off monthly won’t cost you anymore.
3. Communication is key
Don’t put the bill aside and avoid it. Call the billing office, discuss your situation and let them know you want to pay the bill. But if you simply don’t have the money, you simply don’t have the money and they’ll need to work with you on that. Ignoring it and avoiding it will only make the situation worse.
4. If your bill is from a hospital and you can’t afford to pay it, apply for financial assistance.
Many hospitals have very forgiving policies that often times write off the entire bill.
5. If you receive financial assistance from a hospital, call each doctor too and tell them what the hospital has offered.
Many times other providers will honor the discount you’ve been given.