Insider Strategies to Lower Your Healthcare Costs
If you’ve worried about escalating out-of-pocket medical and insurance costs, you are not alone. A national poll in 2017 revealed that 82% of Americans were worried greatly or moderately about the affordability of healthcare; 21% delayed treatment due to cost.
The #1 cause of personal bankruptcy is medical bills. What are some insider (Dr. Lazarus and Dr. Foster) strategies to reduce your cost?
I Medical Bills (like buying a new car) are Negotiable
- Discuss medical bills with your doctor(s) and health facilities before incurring them.
- Clarify if all or only part of medical services are “in-network” with your insurance company.
- Get an estimate of what amount your insurance will pay; what’s your responsibility. Try to get it in writing.
- Don’t be shy to have a family member or your patient advocate assist you.
II Scrutinize Bills for Common Errors
- Check for services/medications you never received.
- You want an itemized bill, not a balance due.
- Make certain your primary, secondary (and tertiary) insurances have paid their full amount before you pay the (correct) balance due.
- Don’t pay your “balance” with a credit card or any other means because your portion of what’s due is still negotiable. Ask if your balance can be paid with an interest-free payment plan or reduced because of a financial hardship.
- Pay bills before they go to collections, which can hurt your credit rating.
III Be a Good Negotiator
- Hospitals/doctors don’t want overdue bills.
- Ask for a discount of your “balance due” if you can pay the total now.
- Consider a medical billing service or have a family member/advocate negotiate a reduction of your balance.
IV Don’t Leave Your Spouse/Family Burdened with Your Medical Bills
- Complete all documents (e.g. Living Will, POLST, POA for health/financial decisions) so everyone knows and agrees to carry out your end-of-life wishes.
- Have the “conversation” with everyone so all are on the “same page.”
- Consider Hospice and palliative care, which are often more humane and much less costly than weeks in an intensive care unit with little prospects of returning to a quality life.
If you have friends/family members you think can benefit from our timely updates and monthly forums, please ask them to send their email address to our website – www.qualityaffordablehealthcare.net.
We welcome questions you have about obtaining quality affordable healthcare from our complicated, sometimes dysfunctional healthcare system. Our answers will appear on our website and/or be emailed to you. Please provide your address.
For March’s forum, we’ll discuss reasons we believe (in all modesty) our book, Insider’s Guide to Quality, Affordable Healthcare, may be a valuable addition alongside your dictionary, Merck manual, and Thesaurus.
Best wishes for a healthy and long life,
Dr. Larry Lazarus
Dr. Jeff Foster