The Commonwealth Fund reported that in 2010, nearly 30 million Americans were contacted by collection agencies to collect due medical bills.

Some myths are responsible for this result. Most of the people think the insurance company pays their medical bills. They don't even know the huge medical bills are due to insurance processing delays or some billing mistake.

Some people even think unpaid medical bills don't affect credit rating negatively. Some others think as long as they make payments on a medical bill, the other bills will not be sent to collections. Some even are of the view that they will be notified before their bills are sent to collections.

These all are wrong concepts that cause huge medical debt burden.

Remember, unpaid credit card debt can create havoc in your financial life. You'll get collection agency calls. They will not hear the excuse that your insurance company didn't pay the bill or there are some mistakes in your bill.

So, the point is, how can you escape from your painful medical debts? Here’s how:

1. Plan ahead of time

A medical emergency can arise anytime. And, don’t think you don’t need any medical coverage at the age of 20s and 30s. You should include a medical insurance policy in your financial planning. So, plan ahead to secure a better financial backup for medical emergencies.

2. Be cautious when you opt for medical coverage

Getting a health insurance policy is not enough. You have to be careful about every little terms and conditions before opting it.

  • Read the policy carefully.
  • Check thoroughly what treatments the policy covers.
  • Ask the agent whether or not you’re required to get prior approval for the procedure.
  • Make sure you get the confirmation that your coverage is active.
  • Make sure that your insurance covers out of network plan.
  • Ask the agent who all will be covered.

3. Act properly to get the full advantage of your insurance plan

Sometimes, people fail to get the full advantage of the medical insurance policy due to some mistakes. They don't even know how to act properly to get the benefits. Read the points carefully: You should call the insurer before being admitted to the hospital.

  • Try to get the pre-approval in writing.
  • Make sure your family members contact the insurance provider within 24 hours to inform about the emergency treatment.
  • You should inform your doctors about your insurance coverage.
  • Keep all the authorization, documents and bills, you receive from the hospital and the doctor.

4. Deal with the medical bill correctly

The bill is a very important thing. You have to get the bill, where every service is included during your hospital stay, for getting the discount.

  • Track your medical bills properly. If you have any doubt, ask for what you’re being charged.
  • You can ask your doctor to get an itemized bill because it contains all charges individually.
  • Review the expenses your insurance plan will cover and which you have to pay from your pocket.

5. Consider negotiating with your doctor regarding the bill

  • Mention the insurance plan properly, whether it is private or employer insurance, medicaid or medicare.
  • You can tell your doctor about the difficulties for paying the bills.
  • Ask for a discount. (As per the 2009 NY Times, a medical office can offer 10%-30% discount and installment payment with no interest)
  • Tell your doctor about the financial assistance you received.
  • Tell your doctor not to send the bills to the collection agency.
  • Keep a written agreement about the installment payment.
  • If you face difficulty making the payment, tell the matter to your doctor.

6. Don't forget to track your medical debt after your recovery

Sometimes, hospital authority or doctor helps to pay off huge medical debts. If you have incurred a hefty medical debt, then you must negotiate with the doctor or the hospital authority to find out a better option. Also, don't forget to track your medical bills after your recovery. Check bill carefully to avoid unwanted hassles.

7. Take advantage of government assistance program

Many government health insurance programs can help you to ease the pressure of huge medical bill. If you’re uninsured at the time you’re in the hospital, then you must enroll in a government assistance program to get the hospital bill covered.

You must enroll within 3 months for getting the support. Call SHOUT( Student Health Outreach) at 203-777-9540 or toll free, 877-24-SHOUT to know the eligibility criteria and free help.

The government programs are as follows:

Read more: 7 Ways to keep medical debt under control

8. Contact your hospital for the free care programs

Many non-profit hospitals provide “free care” or charity care to those patients who’re not able to afford medical bills. You should contact your hospital’s billing office to get more information about it. You may need to apply to get the free care program. Provide all the details and follow up to get the program. In case your application gets rejected, contact the supervisor to appeal. Besides free care programs, free bed fund and donations are also available for those who can’t afford expensive medical bills.

Final thoughts

Many times the health service provider charge you twice for a single service by mistake. If you believe that your bill was not calculated correctly, you can challenge the amount of the medical bill. To avoid hassles, always keep a record of your conversation regarding billing issues. Write down the name of the person you talk and the summary of your discussion. Use your certified Email account to send any documents to the doctor or hospital authority. Keep the receipts safely.

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