When you're being sent home from the hospital after a risky procedure, it's best to avoid looking at your bill - the stress could put you right back in the hospital!
Unfortunately there's no way to avoid an expensive trip to the doctor if you're sick, but you can limit the damage to your bank account.
Most people are happy to just pay their bill, not realizing that they can actually make it smaller, or at least get the debt collector off their back for a few years. Make sure you learn these seven important tips so you don't get stuck with a huge bill!
Here are 3 things to remember before your procedure:
1. Shop around and ask about fees
There are lots of cases where you can get the same operation or treatment performed cheaper at a nearby clinic, and sometimes your doctor will even match their price. When comparing your choices, ask about the fees for everyone involved in the procedure (not just your doctor, but also any radiologists or anesthesiologists).
2. Check for discounts
Hospitals offer all sorts of discounts to save on your bill, but they're not always upfront about them. For instance, you can usually save a percentage of your bill if you choose paperless billing. Also, check if they offer charity care, or discounts based on your income level.
3. Remember to stay in your network
It's important to shop around before your procedure, but if you pick an "out-of-network" provider yours costs could skyrocket. Your insurance charges you extra unless you use providers they approve, so when in doubt double-check your doctor is covered.
And these next 4 tips are important during and after your procedure:
4. Keep track of everything
Are you released from the hospital at noon but charged for spending a full day in your room? Did you get 4 procedures or 5? If you don't know all the important details about your stay you can be overcharged easily, so keep a journal and when your procedure is finished and...
5. Check for mistakes
Even with computers to keep track of everything the doctors sometimes make big mistakes on your hospital bill. If you need help understanding a charge, call your provider or your insurance company. When you spot something wrong, get it corrected right away.
6. Haggle with your hospital
It may feel strange to ask your doctor to lower your bill, but they do it all the time. Get your provider on the phone and explain your situation to them. Usually they can lower your monthly payment, let you pay over a few years, or offer a discount if you pay all at once.
7. Keep calm
Bill collectors and health providers are trained to give you a break...if you seem reasonable. If you explain your situation calmly and offer something now (like a big payment for more time) they'll make a deal. If they can tell you're panicking on the other end of the phone, or if you're rude to them, they probably won't help.
Share these tips so everyone can learn how to handle a big bill!