One of the worst feelings in the world is having a loved one sick and in the hospital. Then almost as bad is getting the bills in the mail, sometimes while they’re still being treated. I know the feeling well. Opening those ominous envelopes and seeing five figure numbers in bright red ink. Then receiving another bill from the doctor, then the other doctor, then the radiologist, etc, etc, etc. Pretty soon you’re holding over 30k in bills and are completely overwhelmed. Here’s what you can do to reduce these bills.
Take a deep breath and relax. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Bankruptcy? While that would suck it’s not the end of the world. Bankruptcy happens to lots of people, even Donald Trump, and he survived it. So grab a cherry coke to make that truth easier to swallow and move on to step two.
Make sure that you don’t have any duplicates. Then call each billing company and ask for an itemized bill. Once you have the itemized bill go through each line. $10 for a box of tissues? They can do better, just ask.
Ask for discounts. For people with no insurance, hospitals will often offer discounts up to 50%, sometimes even more. You just have to ask. Even if you do have insurance, if there’s something your insurance provider won’t cover they will often offer the same discount.
Now that you have reduced all the bills, if you don’t have the money up front ask to set up a payment plan. Often times they will ask you what you can afford and set up a plan for however many months it will take to pay it off.
Make your payments. Even if you can’t make an entire payment each month. Pay what you can. While they can still send the bill to collections they probably won’t as long as you are making at least a small payment each month.
Depending on your situation, you may qualify to have your bills forgiven by the hospital or paid for by a charity care. These are almost like scholarships for medical bills. Apply for all of these options! If you are uninsured or possibly low income you may also qualify for medicaid, so apply. The worst they can say is no and you’re no worse off than before.