Medical debt is a rising concern for the older generation – and for younger Americans as well. And although more people have access to healthcare than ever before due to the Affordable Care Act, medical costs can be extraordinary, much higher than comparable care in other industrialized nations. But when you and a loved one is ill, what can you do other than pursue treatment, regardless of costs?
While medical debt may loom, there are ways to try to sidestep the likelihood of that you’ll go broke pursuing care. Here are 3 avenues to try when the bills come rolling in.
When you’re worried about medical debt and the phone rings, the last thing most people want to do is answer it and talk to the hospital or debt collectors. Avoiding the problem always seems easier than confronting it head on.
But while the collections agency does want you to pay up, they also understand that sometimes the money just isn’t there. That’s why it’s important to pick up the phone and see what you can negotiate. Talk to the bill collector and discuss the situation. It may be that a small payment each month – really a show of good faith more than an actual payment – can protect you from being sued for nonpayment. Communication is the only way to assess the situation and find a manageable resolution.
Assess Treatment Options
It’s amazing how much the costs for relatively similar treatments can vary when you do your research. For example, it’s often the case that a routine procedure costs less in a rural area than in a major city. If you can afford to travel to a less prominent medical center and traveling won’t compromise your level of care, consider this a tenable way to save money.
If you’re considering a drug rehab or long term mental health program, you may have the choice between inpatient and outpatient programs. Outpatient treatment typically costs less, but can still provide the needed structure and skill instruction to help patients transition toward a healthier lifestyle. With many luxury rehabs popping up, it’s worth doing your research and trimming the excessive amenities when possible.
Read Bills Carefully
Sometimes a close examination of medical bills reveals that you’ve been billed for services you didn’t receive and shouldn’t have to pay for. Or maybe you were charged for services covered in full or in part by your insurance company. Be sure to go over your bills with a fine tooth comb to avoid paying money you don’t owe.
If you and your loved ones feel unable to review and manage the medical bills on your own while also dealing with illness, you might need to appoint a healthcare advocate. They can help you review your financial obligations and even represent you in cost. They may also be able to help you negotiate a more manageable payment plan.
Of course, when it comes to medical debt, the best option is always to invest in preventative care and insurance that can help you avoid such debt in the first place. But we all know that when it comes to health, very little goes according to plan. Better to know that there are options for dealing with medical debt other than going bankrupt in pursuit of treatment.