30% of Americans Are in Medical Debt: How to Avoid and Negotiate Your Medical Bills
NEW YORK - January 6, 2022 - ( Newswire.com )
Credello: The cost for quality medical care has been consistently rising for decades. COVID-19 patients are pushing hospitals and clinics to capacity, driving costs even higher. It’s not a surprise that one in three Americans have medical debt. You can blame it on the system if you like, but many of these bills can be avoided. Others can be negotiated. In this article, we’ll tell you how.
Many folks in this circumstance use debt consolidation for medical bills as a solution to their problem. That’s not a bad choice, but it should not be your first choice. Medical bills can be inaccurate. Services are often overpriced. Hospitals will lose $54 billion in net income this year from Coronavirus. They are willing to negotiate, and your bill could be wrong.
Comparing the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) to the Bill
Patients often discard the explanation of benefits (EOB) because it states that it is “not a bill.” Don’t make that mistake. The EOB breaks down the services you received and itemizes the costs for you. Save the EOB when you receive it so you can compare it to the final bill when it comes. If the two are not a match, you may have been overbilled.
The EOB may not have the amounts paid by your insurance company. It may take up to 30 days for those to show up. Medical providers sometimes use third-party billing companies to invoice their clients. Medical coding mistakes are common, and most patients don’t look for them. Using the EOB as a reference document can help you uncover them.
Review Your Health Insurance Plan
Using the EOB and final bill, go through the services you received and check whether your health insurance covers them. This can be a tedious process because you’ll need to review your entire policy, but it could unearth instances where you were charged when you shouldn’t be. It’s best to do this when bills first come in so they don’t pile up.
If you’re faced with a large amount of medical debt, you may want to consider hiring a medical bill advocate. These professionals get paid by the hour or with a percentage of the money they save you. They’ll review your EOBs, bills, and medical records for accuracy, then negotiate with the medical provider or collection agent to bring down the total amount you owe.
Negotiate for Lower Prices and a Payment Plan
There’s a resource called the Healthcare Bluebook (HBB) that you can use to find out what other healthcare providers in your area are charging. Medical bill advocates reference the HBB before beginning negotiations with medical billers. You can do this also if you’re handling your own negotiations. Think of it as ensuring fair pricing.
Once you reach an agreement on how much you need to pay, ask for a reasonable monthly payment plan that you can afford. Most medical providers will agree to it. Their alternatives are not to get paid at all or wait months or even years before they see any money from you. The collection process is long and often ends with a settlement for less money.
The Final Option: Medical Debt Consolidation
Medical bills don’t come with an interest rate, but the biller may charge periodic late fees as you fall further behind. They will also send your bill to a collection agent sooner than credit card companies or lenders will. Medical debt consolidation is one way to avoid that. You can take out a personal loan to pay off those outstanding bills.
Unlike credit card consolidation, medical debt consolidation isn’t likely to save you money on what you owe. Doing it also eliminates any chances of negotiating with the medical provider, so it should be kept in reserve as a last option to avoid collections or legal action. Review your EOB and bill first for discrepancies, check your insurance coverage, and then negotiate.
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