When you or a loved one undergoes medical treatment at a hospital, it is emotionally and physically draining. Many families also experience unexpected financial burden due to the high costs to use hospital facilities in the United States.
The average hospital cost per day is $3949, with patients expected to spend on average $15,734 for their complete stay in hospital. Treatment such as surgery can range from $26,515 for back surgery up to $45,438 for coronary artery bypass surgery. Patients with long term illnesses, or who require critical medical attention for months up to years, are more likely to have higher medical expenses when it comes to hospital bills.
Patients also can find it difficult to cover the cost upfront as many cases have been unexpected or are emergency circumstances. Patients can also find it difficult if they are uninsured or if their insurance coverage does not cover all their medical expenses.
There are a number of hospital charges and medical expenses that can occur when you seek medical treatment in a hospital. These can include:
– Surgery Costs
– Hospital Stays
– Hiring Operating Rooms
– Lab Results and Tests
– Specialists Fees
10 Steps To Get Hospital Financial Assistance
Step 1: Check Hospital Programs For Financial Assistance
Every hospital is obligated to provide financial assistance to patients who are struggling financially and are unable to cover the cost of their medical bills. If you are currently in a tight situation with your finances, the first step you should take is to find out the hospital programs available in the hospital you are receiving medical care from.
These programs are generally run by the non-profit hospitals or medical clinics that aim to reduce the cost of your medical bill. Patients will have to go through a series of forms and documentation requirements to justify their need for financial assistance. General requirements for patients will include proving your current and annual include as well as a balance of your current savings.
One example is the Hartford HealthCare, which provides patients with free financial Counseling. Patients can access this service directly within the hospital.
Step 2: Contact the doctor or hospital
Having an open conversation with your doctor, medical provider and hospital is another step that patients should take when considering hospital financial assistance. Your hospital and medical professionals that you work with need to know your financial circumstance in order for you to seek financial assistance.
Patients should have a clear understanding of their current finances. This includes their expenses of living, their income and any savings they have. Bringing up your concerns about being unable to pay for your medical bills in the near future will help your hospital know that you require financial assistance.
Step 3: Work With Your Insurance Company Directly
Patients can be overwhelmed in the process of receiving treatment and dealing with the hospital for financial assistance. However, it is important to know and understand your health insurance policy and provider. Your health coverage will have an immediate effect on your ability to access medication and treatment at a low cost.
Patients should make sure they have a clear understanding of what their health insurance covers and what are the out of pocket costs for any future treatments and medications.
In addition, patients should also make sure that they are being billed properly. Hospitals should firstly bill your insurance company, with the remaining amount covered by you directly.
Step 3: Check Your Medical Bills From Hospitals
Medical bills will be given to you a number of times throughout the course of your hospital stay and throughout the course of your treatment. Whether you are attending a hospital for surgery or require chemotherapy for cancer, understanding your medical bills is important.
Patients should check medical bills for any errors, duplicates and problems. Often medical bills can have duplicates of medical expenses listed on your medical bill, or even treatment or medical supplies that you do not receive. Spotting these problems and asking for a revised medical bill can help you reduce your medical expenses.
It is important that all costs and expenses you have been charged for are clearly outlined on the medical bill. These should be itemized with a clear description of what each cost is for. If you are unsure of any of the items or expenses outlined, it is important to speak to your hospital billing department for further information.
Step 4: Research The Fair Prices For Medical Expenses
Hospitals are able to charge patients any cost they wish. As a result, some hospitals can inflate patients’ medical bills, which means patients might be paying a lot more than they should. This makes it difficult for patients to understand whether they are receiving their treatment and hospital care at a fair price. This is particularly the case for patients who do not have health insurance.
Patients can take a few steps in order to figure out whether they are being charged fairly. Asking for quotes and researching online for the prices of treatment and hospital care you are receiving is the best way. You can work out the average cost and then determine whether your hospital is billing you at a unfair price.
Step 5: Negotiate Your Medical Bills
Now that you have researched any programs offered by the hospital for financial assistance, checked for errors on your medical bills and found out the fair market value of your treatment and services billed by your hospital, you can now proceed to negotiate your medical bills.
Negotiating your medical bills can help patients dramatically reduce their cost of your treatment and care in hospital. Many patients use this method in order to cut costs, particularly if they are unable to continue paying for their medical treatment. Many studies in fact have shown a high success rate for patients who have chosen to negotiate their medical bills, where 90 percent of patients received some form of a discount.
Patients can also offer paying a lump sum of their medical expenses upfront as a means to receive a substantially larger discount overall. Many patients have found this method to be successful in receiving a larger discount than they would otherwise be able to obtain.
Step 6: Workout A Payment Plan
Patients can also work out a payment plan with their medical provider and/or hospital. Here you will be able to set terms on how much you require to pay on a weekly or monthly basis.
This will help you manage your finances properly whilst still being able to receive treatment and care. Hospitals are more willing to work with you to create a payment plan as they require you to pay your medical bills on time.
Step 7: Get A Written Agreement
Make sure that any decisions made through your negotiation process is finalized through a written agreement. This will help you to understand clearly what you are entitled to and what the hospital is offering you. This is an important step to take in case there are any complications in the future about your payment plan and costs outlined in your medical bills.
Having a written agreement will also help if you require to escalate your issues with legal advice and professional help. This written agreement should be completed before you continue making payments for your medical bills.
Step 8: Seek Non-Profit Financial Assistance
If you were unsuccessful with getting hospital financial assistance from your hospital directly, or if you require further assistance to cover the cost of your treatment, you can look into non-profit organizations.
There are many non-profit organizations that offer financial assistance for patients. These vary in eligibility and can often take long to process. However, patients can expect to receive grants and services free of charge to help aid them in the process of receiving medical treatment.
Step 9: Seek Professional Help
Professional help can be useful for patients who are unable to challenge or negotiate with the hospital. This is particularly important if you feel you deserve a discount for your medical bills but have not been getting the response you would like from the hospital directly.
The Health Rights Hotline, for example can assist patients will determining the best course of action and whether your case is valid for assistance against a hospital. Patients can access this hotline over the phone and simply explain their situation.
Additionally, patients can also seek professional help for the management of their finances.
Step 10: Fundraise For Hospital Bills With PeoplePledge
Fundraising for hospital bills is an alternative way to seek hospital financial assistance. Online fundraising in particular, can help patients and their families get financial aid from family and friends directly. Rather than waiting on your hospital, fundraising offers a proactive way for patients to receive financial assistance.
As a result, patients can receive donations from their own networks and use the funds according to what is required. This removes any requirements and long processes that can be found in other forms of financial assistance. Patients can also avoid filing for medical bankruptcy and quickly pay off any medical debt they have accumulated.
In order to start fundraising, patients can sign up for free online at PeoplePledge. You will then be required to create a fundraising page with a description and photos. Once you have completed this, your fundraising page is up and ready to receive donations. PeoplePledge does not charge you an administration fee to create or run a fundraiser. This service is completely free.
1) Emergency Rooms vs. Urgent Care: Differences in Services and Costs: http://www.debt.org/medical/emergency-room-urgent-care-costs/
2) Hospital and Surgery Costs: http://www.debt.org/medical/hospital-surgery-costs/
3) Seeking Financial Assistance For Your Medical Bills: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/managing-high-medical-bills-32221-2.html
4) 7 Tips For Fighting And Paying A Big Hospital Bill: http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/09/17/you-got-a-10000-hospital-bill-now-what/
5) Find help paying your hospital bills: http://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/get_help_paying_hospital_bills.html
6) Scam Alert: Hospitals All Over America Are Wildly Inflating Medical Bills: http://www.globalresearch.ca/scam-alert-hospitals-all-over-america-are-wildly-inflating-medical-bills/5403489
7) What Can I Do if I Get a Hospital Bill?: http://www.healthconsumer.org/fs042SAeng.pdf
More Hospital Financial Assistance Resources
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