As healthcare costs continue to rise, patients often find themselves facing crippling medical debt. This happens when patients are unprepared, uninformed and caught off guard by unexpected ailments – and once a patient enters the medical bill collections cycle, it can feel as though there is no way out. Patients who are well-informed, however, can better navigate their debt without feeling in over their heads.
Here are a few ways that knowing the ins and outs of the healthcare industry can benefit patients by making the healthcare debt collection process less overwhelming.
- Request an itemized bill. The bills that hospitals typically send to patients don’t contain many details. Therefore, by looking at your bill you might not know what it is you are actually being charged for.
- Review the bill for discrepancies. Once you receive a copy of your itemized bill, review it to make sure you aren’t being charged for treatments or medications that you didn’t receive. When reviewing their bills item-by-item, patients often find erroneous charges. This can include duplicate charges, as well as charges for services you didn’t receive.
- Ask about qualifying for financial assistance. Hospitals don’t always offer charity assistance straightaway even though you might qualify for it. If you feel as though your financial situation might qualify you for financial assistance, don’t be afraid to ask. The hospital will review your case and will let you know whether you meet the requirements for government assistance, charity care, or even discounts from the hospital itself.
Moving forward: Avoiding the emergency room is one way to prevent accumulating large medical bills and entering the healthcare debt collection cycle. If you don’t have a real emergency but need to see a physician on a weekend or after-hours, consider visiting an urgent care clinic. You can plan ahead for an eventual “emergency” by contacting your insurance company and finding out whether they are affiliated with any urgent care facilities in your area.