According to HealthNewsDigest.com, 2.8 million Americans are turning 65 years old in 2011 and becoming eligible for Medicare. While the government program is less expensive than many private health-insurance programs, the out-of-pocket expenses can still add up and cause financial strain, especially for people living on fixed incomes.
To avoid significant health-care debt – which is one of the more common reasons why people file for bankruptcy – HealthNewsDigest.com provides the following tips to help keep medical costs as low as possible:
Understand your paperwork: Know the parts of your bill and what an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is.
- Don’t pay the bill immediately if you are not certain it is correct: It is harder to get money back once you have paid the bill.
- Make sure the bill has accurate basic information: Check that the bill has your name, address, date of service and insurance information listed correctly.
- Verify the bill against the EOB provided by your insurer: The EOB should show the amount charged by the provider, the amount paid by the insurer and the amount to be paid by you. That amount on your EOB should be the same as the amount on your bill.
- Avoid receiving treatment or services from out-of-network providers: Your insurance company has negotiated lower prices with in-network providers, so using out-of-network providers generally will be more expensive.
- Ask the provider for a prompt-payment discount: Many providers offer discounts to people who pay for their treatments in full on the day of service.
- Ask for an interest-free payment plan: If you can’t pay right away, some providers will allow you to set up an interest-free payment plan.
- Don’t ignore bills and let them pile up or go to debt collectors: Don’t wait so long that your bill gets sent to a debt collector or begins to collect interest. If you are in the process of verifying or correcting a bill, let the health-care provider know and ask that the bill not be sent to a collector.