Many people struggle with paying their medical bills. These costs can seem quite burdensome the more and more they add up. In this article, we will break down a few tips on just how you can be proactive and deal with either an expensive emergency room bill or other healthcare costs. We also break down a few ways that you can empower and educate yourself to feel comfortable enough to navigate our complicated healthcare system.
1.) Know Your Network
Make sure that your doctor and hospital are in-network with your health insurance plan. For example, some surprise costs can arise when going in for a routine surgery where the hospital and the surgeon are in network with your health insurance plan but the anesthesiologist may be out of network. For a procedure that is scheduled versus an emergency, ask in advance if they can arrange to have only in-network providers be a part of your treatment.
Many states have laws in place to protect consumers from surprise bills, specifically necessary emergency room visits. Generally speaking, these laws provide that the consumer is required to pay only the amount she or he would owe for the services if provided in-network. States handle these cases differently, but they typically involve the insurer and the provider, not the patient, in order to settle the balance.
2.) Avoid the Emergency Room (ER)
The ER should only be used for extreme emergencies such as life threatening conditions and injuries. Scheduling a same-day appointment with your doctor or a visit to an urgent care center might save you a significant amount of money. An ER visit, although covered in part by health insurance, can cost several hundred dollars. We recommend doing a quick search and make a list of where urgent care centers are located in your community. When you are unsure or in doubt about whether to go to the ER or urgent care center, always call 9-1-1.
A few examples of scenarios in which you should ALWAYS seek an emergency room visit include but are not limited to:
- Severe head or eye injuries
- Broken bones and dislocated joints, if the skin has been broken or the bone needs to be reset
- Fevers with rash
- Serious burns
- Severe abdominal, chest, or back pain
- Deep cuts
- Sudden blurred vision
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Difficulty breathing
- Numbness in the face, arm, or leg
- Ingestion of any kind of poisonous substance
- Repeated vomiting
- Severe allergic reactions
- Life- or limb-threatening injury
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Signs of a stroke, including: severe headache, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, weakness or numbness on one side of your body or face
- Signs of a heart attack, including: chest pain, pain in your left arm or jaw, or sudden weakness or dizziness.
3.) Speak Up!
Let your doctor know what financial concerns you have and explain that the bill might be a problem for you. Many people are not aware that someone can negotiate a lower price for procedures and other healthcare services. For example, some hospitals might offer discounts for those who pay in cash or pay their bill in one lump sum. It could pay off to ask, if it means saving you money in the long run. Contact the billing department and ask for the manager to discuss payment plan options or discounts. One important tip to remember is to avoid being confrontational because ideally, you want them to work with you and not against you.
4.) Request Itemized Health Statements
Whether you had to visit the emergency room or had a procedure done, it is always a good idea to request that the office manager or billing department send you an itemized statement. These healthcare locations are often very busy. This bill will list in detail what services were provided and how much each one cost. It is worth taking a second look at a statement to make sure the prices are correct because you might spot an error in your bill.
For more tips and information, contact Denver Senior Care consultants today!