An unexpected high expense is the worst thing to happen to someone trying to budget and get their life together. Healthcare costs in the U.S. are notoriously high. It is then no surprise that medical bills are listed as the number one reason the average American files for bankruptcy. Medical bills are complex. Unlike your favorite local restaurant, you are hardly ever 100% certain what your final bill will amount to. If you don’t have insurance, the math is pretty easy. The Doctor will let you know what the price of your service will be out of pocket. However, if you have insurance, that math can get extremely complicated. At least once in your life you’ll have go to the Doctors for a medical procedure. So, here’s how to avoid a high medical bill.
Choose An In-Network Provider
If you can, always choose an in-network provider. In network providers are doctors or other healthcare providers who are contracted by an insurance company. Doing business with these contracted doctors will result in lower out-of-pocket charges because in order to be considered in-network they negotiated lower fees with the insurance company (ehealthinsurance.com). Choosing an in-network provider is a great wait to avoid a high medical bill.
Verify Your Coverages
Unlike basic car insurance, medical insurance is deliberately complicated. For instance, your policy will state that preventative care is covered 100% by your insurance. However, there is a limit on what is considered a preventative procedure. This is not stated clearly in your policy document but instead revealed if a customer makes an inquiry. Another example is basic procedures are covered 50% by your insurance but there is no clear definition of what exactly constitutes a basic procedure. The guidance I have is to call your insurance to verify your coverage before you get your procedure done.
Review Your Claims
Before you pay your medical bill, always review your claim. This is not because the insurance company is trying to scam you, but because that large bill you receive may have been an error. Verify with your doctor that he/she coded the diagnosis right. Then confirm they sent the bill to your insurance company before sending it to you. Call your insurance company to verify that all the benefits that you are entitled to have been applied to your bill. If there was an error on your bill, having it fixed is a great way to avoid paying a high medical bill.
Ask For A Payment Plan
If you do happen to receive an unexpected medical bill after completing the above steps, there is one more thing you can do. Ask your doctor if you can be placed on a payment plan. Although these plans are generally interest bearing, the interest charged is usually less than what you’d pay if you paid the bill on your credit card. It’s always better to pay your bill in small monthly increments than to ignore it all together. Not only can this bill affect your budget but if ignored can have detrimental effects on your credit score. FIND OUT MORE CREDIT SCORE HACKS [HERE!].