Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Managing Medical Bills - The Bullet Point Version

I was going to post a pretty lengthy exposé on how we handled our mounting stack of medical bills that accumulated those first months and years after the triplets were born, but my husband told me that the subject matter was pretty boring (you can write it well, but there's still only so much lipstick you can put on a pig...), so I won't. But because I still feel like I need to share a few things I learned from my experience dealing with numerous medical providers and dual (more like dueling) insurance companies, I'll give you the extremely condensed version and hope my dry, lackluster post helps at least one person wade through the stress and despair that comes with each of those crisp, white, Self Addressed (un)Stamped Envelopes...

1. Make Sure The Claims Have Been Submitted Properly
Does it show that your insurance company paid their portion? If you're dually covered, did both companies pay? If not, call your medical provider's billing department to make sure they have all of your correct insurance information.

2. If Your Insurance Hasn't Paid Yet - DON'T PAY ANYTHING
After getting everything sorted out with that nice person from your doctor's billing department, they will resubmit your claim to your insurance company/companies and wait for payment (from them). At this point, do not pay your bill. Wait for insurance to process the new claim and wait for a new bill.

3. Ask About Financial Assistance
Believe it or not, some medical providers will discount fees if you ask. Others offer financial assistance if you can prove financial hardship. Hospitals actually have social workers available to help you sort all of that out. Ask to speak with one.

4. Set Up a Payment Plan
When you finally know the exact amount you owe on your bill, either pay the bill in full or call the billing department (again) to set up a payment plan. Most doctor's offices and hospitals offer interest-free payment plans as long as you can commit to paying a specified amount each month. This makes it way easier to budget for your monthly medical expenses, and any future bills from them can simply be called in and added to your account (like a running tab).

See what can be learned from spending countless hours on the phone with doctors offices and insurance companies while also trying to deal with three newborns?!

Happy bill paying :)

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