Virtually anyone you speak to will agree that healthcare costs in the U.S. are out of control. With seemingly simple consultations and procedures bleeding patients dry financially, there’s little wonder as to why so many Americans go out of their way to avoid seeking care they need. However, while exorbitant medical costs can certainly be a challenge to deal with, getting the jump on them may be much easier than you think. Anyone looking for effective ways to nip exorbitant medical costs in the bud would do well to consider the following measures.
Request Full Explanations of Your Bills
Upwards of 80% of all medical bills in the U.S. contain errors. That being the case, there’s a solid chance most of the bills sent your way feature errors that will cost you more money than the provider is actually owed. If your provider expects you to say outlandish prices for healthcare, the absolute least they can do is provide a clear explanation of what you’re being charged for. So, the next time you receive a medical bill, don’t hesitate to call the provider and request that every item on the bill be explained in detail. Should the provider find themselves unable to explain and/or justify a certain item, request that it be removed from the bill.
Seek Out Affordable Insurance
Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act – a.k.a. Obamacare – finding affordable health insurance often proved impossible for low-income individuals and people with disabilities. However, thanks to the A.C.A., insurers can no longer deny coverage on the basis on pre-existing conditions, and many low-income citizens now qualify for convenient health insurance subsidies. So, if it’s been a while since you last shopped around for insurance, you have absolutely nothing to lose by visiting Healthcare.gov and perusing the plans for which you’re deemed eligible. You may also find looking into small group health insurance plans to be worth your while. Furthermore, healthcare seekers who suffer from disabilities should consider the benefits of long term disability insurance.
Apply for Medicaid
Depending on where you’re based and your financial situation, you may qualify for Medicaid coverage. In case you’re unfamiliar, Medicaid is essentially the U.S.’s public health insurance program for low-income individuals. While it’s not exactly perfect, Medicaid provides coverage for an extensive range of doctor visits, procedures and medications, so if you think you qualify, you have nothing to lose by applying. Since the criteria for qualification vary from state to state, take care to visit your state’s Medicaid website to bring yourself up to speed.
Although you can often apply online, you can also get help from people at your local welfare office. For example, if you’re not particularly tech-savvy or lack regular access to a computer, this may be your best option.
Apply for Financial Aid with Your Healthcare Provider
Even though these programs aren’t often advertised, many healthcare providers offer financial aid to uninsured, underinsured and low-income patients. If you’re unclear on whether your preferred provider offers such programs, pay a visit to their website or get in touch with their financial aid department. Should you qualify for coverage, you may even find yourself eligible for full-on debt forgiveness. Additionally, like Medicaid, the aid from these programs can often be retroactively applied to bills that were incurred before your coverage was approved.
Even if you don’t qualify for financial aid through your provider – or your provider doesn’t offer financial aid – a fair number of providers are surprisingly open to haggling. For instance, you could request a prompt payment – i.e., a significant discount in exchange for a bill being paid immediately. Furthermore, simply informing certain providers that you lack good insurance coverage – or lack insurance altogether – is enough to get a considerable sum deducted from your bill.
For many in the U.S., healthcare costs are far from reasonable. While having decent insurance can often help people avoid financial ruin, insurance coverage doesn’t necessarily make one invulnerable to hefty medical expenses. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to get the jump on exorbitant medical costs and potentially save yourself a small fortune. Anyone for whom medical debt has become a consistent problem stands to benefit from the measures discussed above.