Sometimes injuries require more than a bandage to heal properly. You may need medical treatments or surgeries to heal from an accident, but that also means accruing debt. If you’re worried about facing costly bills, read these tips to ease anxiety about paying medical bills with or without insurance.
1. Reflect on What’s in Your Power
You only want to rest and recover at home when you’re getting discharged from a hospital or clinic. The world of medical billing seems far away and out of your control. When you receive your first bill, don’t panic. There are many tools within your power to mitigate the financial impact on your life.
Ask for Itemized Bills
Standard hospital and clinic bills include a general list of services or a single appointment with the bill’s total. Many people don’t realize that itemized lists and codes create that total and often have costly errors.
A recent study found that 40% of respondents found serious errors in their medical bills, which would have gone unnoticed if they hadn’t reviewed them at home. A staffer accidentally filing your treatment or surgery under the wrong code could mean you have a lifetime of medical debt rather than a few months.
You can always request an itemized bill for your recent services. As long as you can prove your identity, it’s within your patient’s rights to see the documentation and file a complaint with the billing department over any errors.
Negotiate for Better Prices
If you haven’t had a loved one negotiate their medical bill before, you might assume it isn’t an option. However, you can always call your hospital or clinic to negotiate for lower fees. You may even receive hospital bill forgiveness if there are enough billing issues to cause the department to start from scratch.
You also don’t need to find a billing error to take this step. If there’s no error, billing officials sometimes still work with people who say they cannot pay the bills. The health care provider doesn’t want to miss out on future payments, so they’ll likely work with you to lower the bill or monthly payments.
2. Arrange a Payment Plan
If you have medical bill anxiety, there’s more good news — you don’t have to pay for everything immediately after receiving treatment or undergoing surgery for your injury. These are a few ways to make comfortable, timely payments without declaring bankruptcy.
Seek a Lien Resolution
Sometimes people become injured after getting into an accident with a second party. The second party may pay their medical bills if they’re at fault for the accident. However, the legal process of finding fault can take weeks or months. While the injured party is waiting for the second party to provide a financial settlement, they’re likely receiving treatment for their injuries.
You can contact a lawyer to seek a lien resolution if this happens to you. This resolution comes from the responsible party’s healthcare provider and covers the bills for any related treatments or surgeries. When the legal process finishes, the provider will get their money back from the at-fault party.
Schedule Payments on Remaining Bills
Call your hospital or clinic’s billing department to arrange scheduled payments on any remaining bills. They may work with you to arrive at a feasible monthly payment if you provide documentation on your income. The debt will take longer to pay off, but you won’t need to take out a second mortgage or declare bankruptcy to stay afloat.
3. Find Financial Help
Other resources are available for anyone who needs financial support regarding medical bills. Look into these options to find additional funding beyond your income.
Research Charitable Support Groups
Numerous organizations exist specifically to help people pay off medical debt. Life-saving surgeries and treatments don’t have to ruin your future by stealing your income after an injury. Research groups where you may qualify for support, such as:
- Nonprofit healthcare providers
- Veteran organizations
You’ll need to apply for assistance with the individual groups, but they may be the only way to pay your bills. Prepare your billing documentation, potential insurance documents, and other financial statements to provide them as needed while filling out applications. It may not be as immediate as receiving hospital bill forgiveness, but it will feel the same because the money isn’t coming out of your pocket.
Create a Virtual Donation Fund
It’s much easier to reduce stress with positive thoughts when you feel surrounded by a supportive community. Virtual donation funds can create that by solving your financial crisis. Look into websites that people most often use for medical bills, like:
Ask your friends and family to share the link to your fund to raise awareness. Whether people find it through your shared posts, hashtags, or posters, you can pay your medical bills with donations if enough people help.
Consider Debt Consolidation
Debt consolidation means taking out a large loan to pay off all of your existing debts. This might be a potential avenue for you if your medical bills come from multiple providers with different interest rates.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the best option if your medical debt doesn’t have an interest rate. Otherwise, you’ll pay interest on the new debt and give away more of your money over the years. A financial advisor can help you decide whether to take this step while paying medical bills.
4. Request a Medical Billing Advocate
Part of your anxiety about medical debt might come from the endless pages of documents and industry jargon. If you can’t understand what’s on your bill in the first place, you might want to reach out to a medical billing advocate.
They’re financial experts with experience in the medical industry. They know how to search through bills for errors like duplicate charges, mistaken charges, and possible fraud. They can also communicate with your health insurance provider if the company doesn’t pay for parts of your bills for any reason.
5. Try Anxiety-Reducing Habits
Medical bills cause anxiety for everyone, so it’s okay to step back from them when they’re overwhelming. Try these tips to reduce stress and anxiety when you’re not on the phone or sifting through documents.
Enjoy a Warm Bath
Anxiety can store itself in your muscles, causing tension, physical aches, and pain. Warm baths relieve that tension while providing a self-care activity you can do every day.
Sitting in warm water can also be helpful while recovering from an injury. The temperature relaxes constricted blood vessels, allowing improved circulation throughout the body. Talk with your doctor or physical therapist to decide if this self-care activity is suitable for your recovery.
Journal Your Thoughts
Recording your anxiety in a journal also helps while dealing with medical bills. Research shows that people who journal for 15 minutes three times each week decrease their anxiety symptoms and lingering depression. You can use journaling apps or physical paper to enjoy this benefit during any anxious period of your life.
Start a New Hobby
Spending time on an activity you enjoy is an effective way to release stress. You’ll focus on the enjoyable routine instead of anxious thoughts. Consider trying something with multiple steps, like baking, knitting, or working out to ease your anxiety.
Handle Your Medical Bill Anxiety
Feeling anxious about paying medical bills isn’t unusual. They cause stress for plenty of people after injuries require treatments or surgery. Use these tips to gain more control over the situation and feel more at peace with your mental health too.
Author – Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She is passionate about writing about fitness, diet, fitness, mental health, and parenting. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness routines and recipes.