If you recently underwent a procedure or stayed at the hospital, you should expect a bill. The total amount may shock you though. Medical bills can be notoriously hard to pay, even if you currently have health insurance. Meanwhile, individuals without the aid of health insurance may be under financial duress.
Most people don’t have a lump sum of money readily available at their disposal for medical debt. The good news is that you may be able to set up a payment plan to offset the high cost! But you may wonder, “What is the minimum monthly payment on medical bills?”
Learn some statistics about financial health billing and how you can afford to pay medical bills once the bill arrives.
Review Medical Bills for Errors Before Paying
Once you receive a medical bill in the mail, ensure that you carefully look over the total cost. Medical bills are not always accurate. Financial experts estimate that about 80% of medical bills have errors. So it’s possible you may not even have a medical debt to pay!
There are various reasons why a person may receive an inaccurate bill, such as:
Drug Dosage vs. Amount Billed
You may receive an inaccurate medical bill because a provider charged you for more units than were actually administered. For example, a health care provider may submit a drug administration claim, but the amount billed may not match. Ensure that you are accurately billed for the drug dosage you received.
A coding error could be to blame for an inaccurate medical bill. If you spend any time at a hospital, your medical expenses are based on a Diagnosis-related group (DRG) code. There is a unique code for every type of diagnosis. If you are charged the wrong diagnosis, you may end up paying more than you should.
Nursing Facility Overbilling
Fraudulent medical billing is not uncommon. Various skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) have been found guilty of overbilling patients. If you only visited a nursing facility three times, ensure you were not billed for more visits. Hospital Management Services (HMS) projects that 25% of SNF claims will be overpaid.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Setting
Inpatient care is when a patient spends at least one night in a hospital. If you receive medical attention without being admitted to a hospital, such as seeing a doctor, then you received outpatient care.
Inpatient care is more expensive than outpatient care. For this reason, many hospitals have been found guilty of predatory patient billing tactics. Review your medical bill carefully and ensure you did not get charged for inpatient care if you didn’t receive it.
How to Get Lower Medical Bills
Once you receive a medical bill in the mail, avoid paying right away. Why? You may not actually have to pay the total amount of that medical bill! You can save money on medical bills after seeing a health care provider by following these money saving tips:
Review Your Insurance Coverage
If you have health insurance, review your explanation of benefits (EOB) statement. By looking at your EOB statement, you can confirm if your insurance covers those charges. It is possible that your medical provider billed you for services your health insurance company should pay.
Ask for Itemized Medical Bills
The medical bill you received in the mail is likely not an itemized bill. Itemized bills are incredibly detailed and list every type of service you received and on what date. Hospitals are legally required to provide itemized bills if you ask for them. You could end up having wrongful charges dismissed.
Request an Audit of Your Medical Bills
Before worrying about seeking financial assistance for medical debt, consider requesting an audit. An insurance claim processor may have accidentally charged you for additional services you didn’t receive. Claim managers oversee insurance claims, and they can correct errors on a medical bill.
Talk to a Medical Provider About Payment Plans
Once you have done all you can to negotiate lower medical bills, you can talk to a medical provider about payment plans. Paying medical bills can be a struggle, which is why many people ask, “What is the minimum monthly payment on medical bills?”
Medical providers could hook you up with low-interest or interest-free payment plans. Hospital bills are already expensive. You shouldn’t have to worry about sky-high interest fees as well. However, a payment plan may not lessen the financial hardship.
The repayment length for medical debt is typically short. Hospital bills are split up into equal payments, but you may only get a few months to cover the total cost. If you have an expensive hospital bill of thousands of dollars, a few months may not be enough to repay the debt!
If you have short repayment terms, that means your monthly medical bill payments will be higher. The minimum monthly payment maybe hundreds of dollars, which you may not be able to afford on top of your existing bills.
Consequences of Unpaid Medical Bills
If your medical bill goes unpaid, you may be aware that the bill will be sent to a collection agency. However, your credit score may still suffer if you make minimum payments!
Many people believe that as long as they make medical payments, the hospital will leave them alone. However, your medical debt can still be sent to collections if the hospital deems your minimum monthly payments unsatisfactory. The reason is that there is no law pertaining to a minimum monthly payment on hospital bills. Without a signed written payment arrangement, your medical provider has the legal authority to sue you or send your hospital bill to a collection agency.
If your medical bill is sent to collections, you will start to receive letters demanding payment of your medical debt. If the debt goes unpaid or you fail to keep up with the payment plan, a collection agency may serve you with a court summons. You are expected to show up in court when a hearing is held.
Failure to appear before the court means the creditor wins by default. The judge will then file a judgment against you, which goes into the public record. A judgment means you are legally obligated to pay your medical debt, and your credit score will be negatively affected. With a judgment against you, the creditor can take money from your wages and bank account to settle the debt.
How to Quickly Pay Off Medical Bills
Paying medical bills as soon as possible is the best course of action. But if your medical billing statement is too expensive, know that financial assistance options are available!
Here are a few options to quickly pay off medical bills:
Use a Medical Credit Card
A medical credit card is a financial tool available to help patients pay for health care expenses. Many creditors offer zero-interest financing, but only for a short duration. You have to apply and be pre-approved to use a credit card. The creditor will pull your credit report for review when you apply for a credit card. If you have a bad credit score, a creditor may deem you ineligible for financial assistance through a medical credit line.
Unfortunately, you cannot use a healthcare credit card for every procedure, so check with your provider if you can pay off your procedure with a credit line. It can be hard to pay off your debt before the introductory period ends for zero-interest financing. Once interest fees start accumulating, the interest rate may surprise you because it will likely be astronomical!
Use a Payday Loan
A payday loan is a short-term loan used for all types of financial emergencies. You may feel inclined to apply for a payday loan if you have medical statements to pay. Unfortunately, payday loans may not be helpful for medical expenses.
If you are struggling to pay an expensive bill, you may be further burdened by the short repayment terms of a payday loan. Lenders expect payment within two weeks. If you don’t pay within that time frame, you will have to pay obscene fees that make repayment a neverending struggle.
Use a Personal Loan
Eligible borrowers can easily use a personal loan to pay off a large medical bill! This type of loan is unsecure, so you don’t need to risk losing possession of an asset. Borrowers receive a lump sum of money that is repaid in monthly installments.
You could qualify to get thousands of dollars to pay for medical care today with a personal loan. The qualification requirements are generally flexible as long as you can provide proof of reliable payment. Despite a low credit score or an unestablished credit history, you can qualify for the money you need.
Personal loans offer decent interest rates that won’t throw off your financial budget. Lower interest rates mean your monthly payments will be affordable. You could receive more time for repayment with a personal loan than you would with a healthcare payment plan.
It’s essential to be your own medical bill advocate. Once you receive that healthcare statement in the mail, look it over carefully and consider your options. If the cost is high but affordable, talk to a medical provider about payment plans. If a proposed payment plan still doesn’t work for you, look into loans.
The benefit of using loans to pay a medical bill is that you could secure a prompt pay discount from the hospital billing department for paying in full. The hospital or medical office could knock off as much as 5 or 10 percent when you pay in full!
Consider your current situation and what financial course of action would make your life easier.