An accident can be scary. Whether on the job or you find yourself in a car accident, it’s common to feel thankful that you’re alive and recovering when things could have gone much differently. As much as you would like to focus on your health and wellbeing after you leave the hospital, the truth is, you’ll soon have other things on your mind.
Most Americans are surprised to get hefty medical bills in the mail after an accident, even with insurance. You aren’t doomed to be followed by unpayable medical bills and bad credit for the rest of your life. Paying your bills doesn’t have to be scary or impossible when you consider these payment ideas.
Contact an Attorney
If you’ve been in an accident due to no fault of your own, you should contact an attorney. An attorney can work with you to recover funds from responsible parties that can be used to pay your bills.
For example, if you experienced a chest contusion after a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you should not bear any responsibility for its associated costs. Not only can an attorney help you pay for medical bills, but they can also help you recover compensation for lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and future medical bills.
Check That the Charges Are Accurate
If your medical bills aren’t due to someone else’s negligence, and you’re stuck paying them yourself, the first thing you should do is make sure that the charges on your bill are accurate. The more medical services you receive, the more likely it is that a mistake may have been made. A few common billing mistakes to keep your eyes open for include:
- Duplicate charges
- Tests and procedures that were canceled
- Balance billing charges when you were actually in-network
- Incorrect quantity of medications given during your stay
- Inflated time spent in the operating room and time under anesthesia
If something doesn’t look right, call the hospital billing department and ask. You just may discover you can knock thousands of dollars off of your bill.
Consider Hiring a Medical Bill Advocate
If the idea of trying to comb over your bill and look for errors sounds like a nightmare, or if you’re not in a good place to negotiate your bills on your own, consider hiring a medical bill advocate.
There are some times when hiring a medical bill advocate is a good idea. They are most likely to help when you’ve had multiple procedures and your bills are confusing, or you’re simply having a hard time understanding the charges on your bill. They can clarify what each of the charges represent, and they can negotiate lower prices or payment plans on your behalf.
They are familiar the codes on medical bills and can spot problems that you wouldn’t be able to see. They can also provide you with peace of mind, knowing you have an informed advocate on your side.
Talk to the Hospital
If you’re looking for a more straightforward way to deal with your medical bills, start by calling the hospital or clinics where you received care. In many cases, billing departments are willing to work with you to lower your prices or provide you with an affordable payment plan.
The hospital may be willing to provide you with a prompt payment discount for paying your bill in a lump sum, which could make it more affordable. Many offer financial assistance, as well as payment plans that can make your payments more manageable. They may also be able to provide you with information on other agencies that can help you cover your medical bills.
Talk to Your Insurance Provider
In addition to talking to the hospital, you may want to consider speaking with your insurance provider. There’s a possibility that their records are inaccurate, and they may also be able to clarify our how their pricing system works.
If your bills are higher than you thought, you can speak to your insurance provider about other plans that may be better suited to your situation so you can pay less in the future. They may also be able to help you set up a health savings account (HSA), so you’ll always have a little money set aside for unexpected medical bills.
Apply for a Loan
If you can’t get your medical bills reduced and you’re still struggling to pay them, you may want to consider applying for a loan. However, some loans are better than others.
Some loans to consider include:
- Personal loans
- Home equity line of credit
- Medical credit card
- In-house financing with the hospital
If it can be at all avoided, you should never use a credit card to pay for medical debt, as interest rates can quickly inflate the cost of your current charges. It’s also generally a good idea to avoid borrowing against your 401k. If you can’t pay it back within five years, you could face higher taxes, fees, and an inadequate retirement savings in the future.
Paying Something Is Better Than Nothing
If you simply don’t have the money, you may feel tempted to ignore your bills. That’s a bad idea. Medical debt is often reported to credit agencies, which means it can eventually be treated like any other kind of debt that affects your credit score.
Paying something is always better than paying nothing. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that small payments will keep you away from collections. You have to call the hospital first. Most are willing to take very small payments as part of your payment plan, and as long as you have an arrangement, you won’t have to worry about your accounts being sent to collections.
The last thing you want to have to worry about when recovering from an accident is paying for medical bills, but it’s something that deserves your attention. Hopefully, with these ideas, paying your bills is easier so you can focus on your recovery instead of what’s in your bank account.