Health care is expensive. My six year old son just had a minor surgical procedure that will cost us somewhere north of $1,200 (deductible plus whatever the co-insurance ultimately winds up being). Needless to say, his health and well-being is worth the world to us, but at the same time, I don’t want to pay any more than we have to.
Based on my experiences dealing with medical bills and insurance over the years, here is some of my best advice.
- Stay organized. This one is super hard for me, because I’m naturally more of a free spirit when it comes to paperwork. Keep a binder or accordion file to sort paperwork for each family member. This can also double as a record of care and make it easier for you to fill out forms and find information when consulting with new medical professionals.
- Open all of your mail! Or perhaps I’m the only one silly enough to just toss a letter from the health insurance company into a pile because I just “knew” it was an EOB for my kid’s last check up only to find out later it was a demand to fill out a paper by a certain date lest they stop accepting my claims.
- Speaking of filling out forms, keep on top of requests for proof of eligibility or statements regarding other coverage and so on. They aren’t joking when they say they’ll put a halt to your claims if you don’t fill them out. Whether or not it’s ridiculous for them to do this is a question for another day, just know that you can avoid a lot of hassle by sending in the “Yes I don’t have any other insurance” form every year.
- Before visiting any specialist or having any procedures done, call and double check that you don’t need authorization or that any needed notification has been done. Failure to get notification and authorization can cause your claim to be rejected or reimbursed at a much lower rate.
- You’ll also want to make sure that all of the providers who will be involved with your care are in network. This includes anesthesiologists, labs, radiologists and so on. If there are no in work specialists available, consult with your insurer to see if you can get an exception and pay the in network rate for any coinsurance.
- Pay very close attention to account numbers and know that you’ll often get many different bills from one hospital procedure. At my last birth, I ran into trouble because what I thought was multiple copies of the same bill were really two separate charges, one for me and one for my newborn. I only paid one and the other wound up going to collections which put a ding on my credit report.
- Take notes of all phone calls including dates and the full name of the person that you spoke with. Keep these in the binder with all the bills and statements. Be sure to schedule a calendar reminder for yourself to follow up and check to see that promised actions have been taken.
- Likewise, make a cheat sheet of all payments you’ve made including the date and what form of payment you used, i.e. check numbers or which card you used. It makes presenting proof of payment easier if a dispute should come up.
- If you can, work out a payment plan with the hospital or physician’s office rather than putting it on a credit card. Paying them directly usually avoids interest fees.
- Do some shopping around for prescriptions and medical equipment, prices vary by retailer. If you have a warehouse store like Sam’s or Costco, per most state’s laws you do not have to be a member to use their pharmacy, so give them a call, too.
It probably shouldn’t be so complicated to get and pay for medical care but it will make your life easier and potentially less expensive if you’re organized and diligent about dealing with your medical bills and insurance companies.
Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to organizing your medical bills or dealing with insurance companies?
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