By Tye Lucas, Director of Patient Services, Satellite Healthcare
When you’re sick and out of work, the idea of paying for medical bills can be a scary prospect. It doesn’t help that many doctors and their staff don’t understand the stress you are facing.
Here are a few tips that can help you relieve that stress when you are out of work due to illness:
Understand your insurance coverage
First of all, find out what you’re covered for. What is your copay, deductible, or out-of-pocket costs for your procedure? Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your insurance representative. They are the experts and expect questions like these. Make sure you understand what a deductible is and how it affects your coverage.
Related article: Common Insurance Terms Defined
Use “In Network”
Using an “in-network” doctor or specialist may lower your costs. These are doctors and specialists who contract with your insurance company. These can usually be found on your insurance company’s website, or by speaking with an insurance representative. The savings of using an “in network” doctor or specialist is significant.
Ask your doctor
If you can’t pay a bill, see if you can arrange to make periodic – such as monthly – payments that you can afford. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor’s office.
Check with your medical practice to see if they have any programs of financial aid. Many doctor’s offices have charity assistance or other similar types of programs to assist when you’re facing a financial hardship, such as being too sick to work.
There are other insurance options available, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Medigap, and other similar insurance choices that are provided by the government. Ask an insurance expert or even your doctor to see if other insurance coverage is available to you.
Use web resources to explore programs that may offer financial help, or other types of assistance to help offset costs. Companies like drug manufacturers may offer patient help programs. Check and see what charitable health assistance is possible.
Ask your company
Contact your supervisor or your employer’s benefits representative or human resources departments to explore other benefits that may be offered during times of illness.
Investigate insurance options
If other health insurance benefits are offered to you during the year – such as during open enrollment periods -- seek out and make changes to your health coverage that may offer better benefits or lower costs.
Finally, seek out credit counseling advice, which is often free and can help you with debt relief, budgeting and other credit issues. Ask a trusted friend or investigate good quality credit counseling services online.