Boy it’s been an expensive month so far. I never knew I could have so many unexpected bills in one month!
First, I got a hefty bill from the hospital for a test that was ordered but not covered by my insurance. I called the hospital, my doctor’s office, and my insurance company numerous times. It turns out that the test would have been covered by my insurance if it had been billed as diagnostic rather than routine. Of course it was diagnostic, it was ordered when the original test showed an abnormal result! Nonetheless, it needed to be resubmitted with the correct name.
Then, I had to take my 2 girls to the emergency room. Our emergency room co-pay used to be $25. Just a month or two ago, it got raised to $100 – per person, per visit. I’m sure we’ll also be billed for my one daughter’s x-ray and breathing treatment that she was given in the emergency room for her upper respiratory infection.
My other daughter, the oldest, was at the ER not for illness, but for injury. (Her little brother re-located one of her front teeth with his forehead while I was waiting for the pediatrician on-call to be paged about my youngest daughter’s trouble breathing. Once he called me back, he told me to take them both to the emergency room, so I did.) The only hospital bill I’ll get from that will be the $100 co-pay, but I had to follow up with our dentist the next day – another bill!
Not only that, but we usually are told to follow up with our pediatrician, too. That’s 2 more co-pays, thankfully less that the emergency room co-pays though. (We’ve yet to go because the pediatrician is on vacation, so we can’t even schedule an appointment yet.)
With all of those medical bills, I’m not even going to elaborate on my van being at the garage for repairs now!
Anyway, with all of those unexpected medical bills, there arises the question of what to do about them. For the first one, I called around to my doctor, the hospital, and my insurance company to get it straightened out so that I don’t have to pay for it. As for the others, I’m not getting out of those hospital co-pays, and I’m not sure about the x-ray, breathing treatment, and dentist visit.
Even though I have to pay those bills, there’s still a way for at least some of them to be reduced. The hospital I go to is very good about billing and payments. They offer a 20% discount on the bill if it’s paid within 3 weeks of when it’s billed. Not only that, but I noticed more discount information on the back of the bill, too. They offer 2 different discounts based on income, too. One is a 100% discount under certain income guidelines. The other is a 40% discount under certain income guidelines.
So, I suppose the way to deal with these unexpected medical bills is to make sure the insurance paid all that it should have, pay the bills as soon as possible, and inquire about and/or apply for a discount based on income. That may not make all of the bills go away, but it should definitely help reduce or eliminate some, and even though I’ll still have some bills to pay, I’m thankful that I have a savings to dip in to. After all, that is what the “savings” category of my budget is for – unexpected expenses.
Article by Randi Millward