Healthcare costs are increasing for all Americans, and some can’t keep up. Roughly 25 percent of Americans reported difficulty paying their medical bills in the past year, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the New York Times. This is not surprising when you consider that in 2006, the average person’s healthcare expenses were 5.7 percent of their annual income, and by 2015 that number had risen to 7.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You don’t have to allow medical expenses to sink your finances, though. There are several ways a person can lower their medical costs that they may not have known about. Here are six.
Know Your Insurance Policy
Insurance policies can be complicated, but knowing what your policy covers and does not cover can help you make the cost- effective decisions about your health. Doctors don’t necessarily make medical recommendations based on cost, but if you know what’s in your policy, you can ask your doctor to make recommendations with your insurance coverage in mind.
Question Your Doctor
While your doctor may be the medical expert, you’re paying the bill and you should feel comfortable questioning them about the tests, procedures, and medications they prescribe. Ask them if the tests and procedures they recommend are medically necessary, especially if your insurance plan has a high deductible or co-pay. Additionally, make sure to find out if the medication you are being prescribed is the cheapest version, because sometimes doctors prescribe the more expensive name-brand version over the cheaper generic version.
Ask if You Qualify for Discounts
While it may seem unlikely that there are discounts available from healthcare providers for medical expenses, you’d be surprised what they may offer, if you just ask. Not every healthcare provider will offer a discount, but you may be able to coax one out of them if you agree to pay in cash. At the very least, you should be able to negotiate a payment plan that can make the cost more bearable.
Research the Costs
You would never purchase a car without doing research about the price so why would you agree to a procedure or test without knowing how much it will cost? Discuss the costs with your healthcare provider and then do some research to determine if you’re being charged close to the average price for your procedure or much more. If you are armed with this information, it may be easier to negotiate when you discuss discounts with the billing department.
Review Your Medical Bills
About seven percent of medical bills have mistakes, according to the American Medical Association, so it’s important to review them closely. Request an itemized medical bill from your healthcare provider and compare it with the Explanation of Benefits statement your insurer provides. Make sure everything is correct and don’t hesitate to call your healthcare and insurance providers, if you come across any mistakes.
File a Lawsuit
Unmanageable medical bills could stem from an unforeseen accident or illness that wasn’t your fault. No one should have to pay for medical care themselves if their injuries were caused by the negligence of another person, such as with workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, a car accident, or a slip and fall. Through filing a lawsuit, you may be able to get the medical expenses related to your injury covered by the negligent party, including future medical expenses for lasting injuries.
Learn more about your legal rights by contacting Morgan & Morgan for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.