Thursday, January 16, 2014

More Than You Can Chew: Tips for Paying Medical Bills

A large medical or dental bill that is more than you can chew is so discouraging. When presented with a super-sized medical bill, it is possible to negotiate with the hospital, doctor, or dentist providing services. The results may be instant, or take some time to achieve, but do not despair. Here are tips for paying medical bills and keeping on top of your finances when the unexpected occurs.

Ask for a Discount Before Receiving a Medical Bill

Ask the doctor, hospital, dentist, or oral surgeon for a discount prior to the service if possible. Tell the provider that you do not have health or dental insurance, or any relevant financial circumstances. For example, if unemployed, living on a small fixed income, or anything else that affects the ability to pay, discuss this before services are rendered. Many providers and health care facilities offer financial services assistance to those in need. Unfortunately, unless the patient informs his or her doctor or institution about financial circumstances, the provider bills without consideration.

Offer to Settle the Outstanding Bill Immediately

When requesting a discount for services, do not accept the provider's initial rejection as the final word. The doctor or dentist needs office cash flow. Offer to pay the debt in full, at the reduced price offered, immediately. Pay the bill with a cashier's check or in cash, immediately after offering to pay the discounted rate. Write “paid in full” on a cashier's check and request a receive stating that the debt is paid when settling in cash.

How to Pay Older Medical Bills

Sometimes the patient's financial condition changes quickly, and he or she may become unemployed shortly after receiving expensive medical or dental services. It is still possible to ask the provider or hospital for a discount. In this instance, contact the doctor, dentist, hospital, or medical facility as quickly as possible to discuss the circumstances. If months have passed since the services were provided, look up the fair price for the services received. Use this information to negotiate a discount. Insurance companies use similar information to negotiate a better price on their subscribers' services.

Arrange a Payment Plan

Occasionally, a doctor, dentist, or hospital will demand payment in full. In this scenario, politely explain your financial circumstances, and request a payment plan. Never provide a credit card or offer to pay the amount owed on a credit card. This action subjects the financially-strapped individual to interest charges required to finance the medical bill. Instead, offer an affordable payment amount. Then, make the payments as agreed.

Pay as Agreed

When offering the provider a discount, or requesting a payment plan over a certain period of months or years, keep your word. Never offer a payment plan that is more than you can afford because this puts personal credit and ultimate settlement of the debt at risk. To make payments on a payment plan as agreed, consider writing checks for each month's payment in advance. Place each check into an addressed envelope, then place each ready to send payment in a calendar file.

Emergency Medical Bills

In some situations, such as an emergency, it is impossible to ask for discounted services. For example, an individual is in a car accident, and an emergency vehicle or ambulance takes him to the hospital to receive urgent care. In such an instance, the individual or his family should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Jeffery C. Metler, who has had experience in the field says medical bills, rehabilitation services, lost wages, and the cost to repair a vehicle can all be payed with the help of a personal injury attorney. Never interact with the at-fault driver's insurance company without the benefit of a personal injury attorney on your side.

When it comes to your health, you need the best care possible, and often it comes at a steep price. Don't let your current situation dictate your health. Take action and come up with a way to pay off the debt yourself. Use these tips to get started and improve your situation today.

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