Ways To Help Deal With Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy proceedings in the US.  In 2007, 57 million people were in families who had problems paying their medical bills according to this article by Peter J. Cunningham.  However, there are ways to cope with the rising costs of medical care.  I was born with Spina bifida in 1979, and I’ve had a lot of experience in the medical care “system”.  I have a few tips to share with you, and by following them some of your burden will be lifted.


First of all, medical insurance is extremely important even if you are a healthy person who never goes to the doctor.
My brother, who’s 22, is healthy as a horse but has a decent medical insurance plan because it can be financially devastating to be stuck with a bill for thousands of dollars if you need emergency care.  Some doctors will not even see patients without insurance.  If your employer offers medical insurance, try to pick the middle plan if you don’t have a lot of medical expenses for you and your family.  If you do have a lot of expenses, you should consider the plan that gives you the least out of pocket expenses.  It’s more expensive per month, but for those of us who have many hospitalizations, or a family member who has a medical condition, this can save you so much money.  If you aren’t offered medical insurance through your employer, find a reasonable individual plan.  Find one that will leave you properly insured, not paying hundreds of dollars per month for something you can never use because the deductible is so high.

Realize that your doctor’s job is to treat and heal you, not to be a steward of your money. Therefore, keeping the lines of communication open regarding your finances is your responsibility.  If your doctor suggests tests and procedures, discuss your financial situation with him or her and determine if all of the procedures are necessary.  A simple blood test or one x-ray might be all he needs, and that could possibly save you hundreds of dollars.  Ask the doctor to start with the minimum diagnostic procedures at the beginning of your illness, or the one he thinks is the most necessary.

If you don’t have a regular doctor, steer clear of the emergency room whenever possible and go to an urgent care facility. The basic visits for these clinics is about $75, and procedures are extra so discuss your financial situation there as well. You will be responsible for the cost up front most of the time but $75 is much more affordable than the thousands of dollars you’d be billed at the ER.  Believe me, my husband has been there.

Call the billing office of your hospital and/or doctor’s office and negotiate payment.
This is especially important if you are without insurance or under insured.  They want their money, so they will work with you.  Hospitals especially charge those who are without insurance or under insured a lot more than those who have insurance.  Ask for those rates, or something comparable.  Also ask for a repayment plan that is reasonable for your income.  Not having any debt  is important, but sometimes for those of us who have high medical expenses it isn’t a goal that’s feasible.  Keeping those debts out of collections and bankruptcy court is an attainable goal.

Medical expenses don’t have to consume you. Simply doing research and working with your doctor’s office as well as keeping the lines of communication open between you and your care providers can not only save you money but also stress and anxiety.  Who needs that when you’re ill?

This is a guest article from Kristin of Making Cents Out of Life.  If you enjoyed this article consider subscribing to Making Cents Out of Life’s RSS feed for more great content!

photo credit: alpha du centaure

Free Newsletter to Keep you Free From Broke!Name: Email: We respect your email privacyPowered by AWeber email marketing
Published or updated May 9, 2013.

Comments

  1. Luckily the Lord has blessed me & my wife with good health so we have not had medical issues yet.

    Thank you for these suggestions. I really dig the one about talking to your doctor about your financial situation… how much you have, etc. That is something I’m sure almost nobody does, but everyone SHOULD do!
    .-= Matt Jabs´s last blog ..One World Currency – New World Order =-.

    • I’m reminded now of times I’ve asked doctor’s for sample medications. Usually they have samples they can give you. I’ve even had a doctor say of course here you go and he basically gave me samples instead of having to fill a prescription.

  2. As one of the semi uninsured in America I am following this debate closely. My semi un-insurance is by choice. Years ago I got tired of dumping 1500 a month to be insured . I was 35 and thought this was obscene. Took my chances and invested the money that would be down the toilet and got a cat policy with a 50k deduct. Now I have a truck load of cash in an account that works for me to cover medical expenses and a dirt cheap policy should a heart transplant be in the future. As far as the medical expenses causing bankruptcy. Look a little closer. It’s not the medical expenses. It’s the extended period you are out of work and not bringing in any income. And nobody’s plan deals with that issue.
    .-= tax lien deed´s last blog ..Tax Lien Foreclosure =-.

  3. I agree, I am in my early 20’s and have a good help plan from my employer. Even though I am in good health and eat right and exercise, I had a finger injury which required surgery and without the health plan it would have cost me thousands.
    .-= Craig´s last blog ..Quit blaming the economy and start protecting yourself already =-.

    • I think a lot of young folk think they are somewhat indestructible (I’m guilty there) and don’t think they need coverage. But like you all it takes is one big injury to wipe you out. Glad to hear your surgery was covered.

  4. hi,

    I’m studing medicine. I have 2 more years and then I will become a doctor, but I have to say that I’m really disapointed of the medical system… and I totally agree with you : medical insurance is extremely important even if you are a healthy person who never goes to the doctor!!!!
    .-= emo´s last blog ..Emo can be short for “emotional.” =-.

  5. Whenever, I get a medical bill, I immediate call and set up a payment plan even if I think I can pay it off ASAP. If I can, I do, but I like to have something in place just in case I cant.

    You are so right, youth doesn’t mean a thing. I got myself into medical debt early in my adult life. Now that I’m recently diagnosed with MS (age 30), I don’t see medical bills not being a part of my life anytime soon.
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..Guest Post: Eco-Designers Embrace Full Figures =-.

  6. …Also for younger people, it doesn’t always have to be an injury or accident. Young people get sick too!
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..Guest Post: Eco-Designers Embrace Full Figures =-.

    • And it doesn’t even have to be illness. If you have a medical plan you should take advantage of yearly exams and any well-being it offers!

  7. Paul Maurice Martin says:

    Good pointers. I’m in my sixteenth year of a rare incurable illness. This sort of chronic condition – that insurance companies hate providing coverage for – is a potential killer financially. So I’d just add that general all-around sound money management is critical to not being overwhelmed by ongoing medical expenses. Paying off the car, not carrying a balance on your credit card – anything and everything you can do not to incur needless expenses on other fronts – is very important.

    • Sound personal finances always come in handy! As does having an emergency fund and using health flexible spending accounts to lower your tax burden.

    • Another great point! I make sure I am not carrying any balances on cards, etc. I never know when I may have to drop $3K on meds out of the blue. There is financial assistance available for people with MS, but I am not poor enough to qualify.
      .-= Carla´s last blog ..Online Store Review: Artprints-Online.com =-.

  8. I need to pay off my medical bills. I just avoided paying them or paid $5-$10 a month. They are still there a year later. :(
    .-= AJ´s last blog ..Major Break Through!-Hair Related =-.

    • That can be a problem with paying a minimum payment. Make sure you keep up with the payments though or your bills can be sent to collection which can really hurt your credit score!

  9. I am in my late 30’s. I have had a hard time finding affordable insurance because of my diabetes. Even though its under control. I pay my bills religiously. I had a gall bladder removed on an emergency basis late 2012. Due to the severity and being uninsured I’m being billed $90,365. We will be doing a chapter 7. It is certainly not the first choice for integral people but it is there to give them hope. A good chapter 7 lawyer should be able to get you in to the “means test” even if a cursory web based test says no. We make $80 a year, to much for any assistance. Plenty to pay the taxes for that assistance. A lawyer should cost you around $1500 to $3000. At least in Wisconsin. You would have to check your state. Good luck.

What Do You Think?

*