As healthcare costs rise, many people are swamped with medical bills and other health expenses. While most have insurance, larger deductibles, copays and other costs can still add up to big bucks.
In a study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health, of the 83 percent of participants who had health insurance, nearly 27 percent of them said they had difficulty paying their medical bills.
Nowadays it’s crucial to be a smart and savvy healthcare shopper, especially in these tough economic times. What many don’t realize is that there are several ways to take control and lower your healthcare costs:
- Do your homework. Costs for medical procedures can vary dramatically, depending on the facility where they are performed. You can research different hospitals and facilities to comparison-shop prices for procedures. Just reviewing and comparing costs is one important step in potentially saving money and making the best use of your healthcare dollar.
- Always stay in-network. When possible, stick with a doctor under your insurance plan. Using an in-network provider will help you to avoid large out-of-pocket charges.
- Talk to your doctor. Providers consider your financial status when recommending care. Let them know the costs are important to you. Discuss a payment plan with your physician. A whopping 61 percent of adults who asked their doctor for a discount got one.
- You got charged. Insurance will not cover the entire cost of the medical procedure you received if the provider is not in your preferred network leaving you with large out-of-pocket expenses. Some providers will give you a lower rate if you pay in cash. You can also make arrangements with the billing department. They may discount what you owe or work with you to make monthly payment arrangements.
- Look out for errors. According to Consumer Reports Health, 80 percent of medical bills have errors. Some common errors include: incorrect coding, wrong names, addresses, birth dates and social security numbers. Also make sure you are only being billed for the treatment you received.
- Don’t give up. Dispute any charges you think you should not have to pay. Work with the provider’s billing department until you come up with a resolution.
- Get a third party involved. It doesn’t hurt to get help from a health advocate. They can help you talk to the insurance company and walk you through an appeal process if necessary.