Medical costs are a tremendous burden on millions of Americans. Even people who think they have good insurance can find themselves overwhelmed by medical debt. Unfortunately, the prospect of receiving exorbitant bills often prevents U.S. citizens from seeking care for which they have a serious need. While our profit-based healthcare system seems poised to remain in place for the foreseeable future, there are a number of easy steps you can take to keep your medical costs under control.
Make Preventative Care a Priority
From both a financial and health-conscious standpoint, preventative care stands to benefit you in a number of ways. For one thing, staying current with physicals and having seemingly small problems examined in an expedient manner can help ensure that larger, costlier issues are caught early on – before they have a chance to do a number on your finances. It’s hard to deny that spending a small amount of money in the short term is preferable to incurring a king’s ransom in medical debt in the long run.
Staying in touch with your regular doctor and keeping up with annual physicals are among the core tenets of preventative care. So, if you’re currently without a general practitioner (GP), now would be a good time to find one. Kentuckians in need of general family medical practice Cold Spring, KY are likely to find a fair number of suitable options.
In the U.S., upwards of 80% of medical bills contain errors. While many of us simply roll with the punches and pay the amounts presented to us, this may not be the best way to handle things. After all, seeing as the vast majority of medical bills contain errors, it seems only natural that we’d want to know exactly what we’re being charged for.
So, the next time you receive a medical bill, place a call to the provider and request that every item on your bill be explained to you in detail. If the provider is unable to provide a decent explanation for a particular charge, request that it be removed from your bill. When taking this approach, you’re likely to find that many healthcare providers are unable to cogently explain certain charges – and if a charge can’t be justified, you shouldn’t be expected to pay for it.
Haggle with Healthcare Providers
As previously stated, many of us tend to simply pay exorbitant medical bills instead of asking questions. While this approach certainly benefits healthcare providers, it can be disastrous for our finances. You should also be aware that many providers are surprisingly amenable to negotiating with patients who are uninsured, underinsured or unable to comfortably afford certain medical costs.
The next time you’re faced with a medical bill you simply can’t afford, get in touch with the provider and explain your situation. Some providers will instantly take a huge chunk off the bill, while others may forgive the debt entirely. (Keep in mind this may largely depend on your individual financial situation.) Additionally, some providers offer prompt payment discounts, which entail large portions of bills being forgiven in exchange for immediate payment.
Apply for Financial Aid
Although many healthcare providers offer financial aid programs to low-income patients, few of them openly advertise this. So, if you’re interested in receiving financial aid, ask your provider about available options. The exact type of financial aid you’ll receive varies from provider to provider and ranges from large discounts to full-on debt forgiveness. As a bonus, some financial programs are retroactive, meaning their benefits can be applied to outstanding bills. At the very least, many providers will work with you on hammering out manageable payment plans for your medical bills, thus sparing you the financial strain of paying large sums at once.
It’s not hard to see why so many of us live in constant fear of medical debt. Since a single medical emergency stands to bleed us dry financially, there’s little wonder as to why Americans are often hesitant to seek vital care. Although we’re still a long way off from the massive healthcare reform this country needs, keeping medical costs manageable and seeking the care you need don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Taking the steps discussed above stands to save you a fortune in medical costs and provide you with some much-needed peace of mind.