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Feeling Overwhelmed by Medical Bills? A Practical Guide to Reducing and Removing Your Medical Debt

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Medical bills can be a significant financial burden, often leading individuals and families to face challenges in meeting their healthcare expenses.


According to a recent survey by Commonwealth Fund 2023 Health Care Affordability Survey, “Medical debt is leading many people to delay or avoid getting care or filling prescriptions: more than one-third (34%) of people with medical debt in employer plans, 39 percent in marketplace or individual-market plans, 31 percent in Medicaid, and 32 percent in Medicare."


Therefore, in this article we highlight practical ways, resources, and organizations to help you manage, reduce, or even eliminate your medical debt. There are multiple resources and avenues to get help with paying your medical bills. And here we explore and share important information and resources with you that can help reduce your medical debt.


By taking a proactive approach, understanding available resources, and seeking assistance when needed, you can navigate the challenges of medical debt more effectively. Remember, you are not alone in facing these difficulties, and there are organizations and programs dedicated to providing support. Here are some tips and resources that can help you alleviate your medical bill related concerns.


 
  1. Understand Your Medical Bills


Tip: Thoroughly review your medical bills and ensure that all charges are accurate. Look for any discrepancies or errors.


Resource: Consider using online tools like Goodbill.com. Per Goodbill, there mission is “ to shake up the healthcare industry and make hospital bills transparent and affordable for the patient.” You can take help of such organizations to potentially help you get rid of your medical debt or to reduce your medical debt.


“Among the roughly 10,000 bills in which it’s found errors or unnecessary care, the company has won about half its negotiations, reducing patient fees by an average of 30%.”

Per Goodbill’s website it’s backed by the same investors who helped build some of the most iconic companies of our time, like Glassdoor, GoFundMe, Groupon, Instacart, Nerdwallet, Remitly, Starbucks, and Zulily.


How does Goodbill work?


First, you authorize Goodbill to get your billing records from your hospital. Then, once you enter your insurance and medical record information Goodbill’s software and experts will analyze your hospital bill for coding errors and pricing discrepancies, and then negotiate to save you money.


Goodbill claims that on average they save from 20-60%. However, Goodbill only supports claims that have not gone to collection and not been paid. Also, you would have to be 20% of the money Goodbill saves you. You can go to this GoodBill link for to get help negotiating your bill.


2. Negotiate with Healthcare Providers


Tip: Be proactive in communicating with the billing department of your healthcare provider. Inquire about discounted rates, payment plans, or financial assistance programs.


If you believe that there are no errors on your bill and you are unable to pay your bills, you can request your health care provider to lower the charges. You can do this by contacting their billing department and looking into their financial assistance policies to see if they offer assistance to low-income patients.


Therefore, make sure to ask your provider if they have such financial assistance programs available.


Resource: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides great resources to help patients deal with medical bills.


3. Explore Financial Assistance Programs


Tip: Research and inquire about financial assistance programs offered by your healthcare provider. Many nonprofit hospitals are required to provide such programs.


Resource: Many states like Washington require hospitals to inform “patients about financial assistance options verbally and in writing and must screen patients for eligibility before attempting to collect payments.


4. Utilize Community Health Centers


Tip: Find a nearby community health center that offers affordable or free healthcare services. These centers often serve individuals without insurance or those facing financial difficulties.


Resource: The HRSA website (Health Resources & Services Administration) has a locator tool to help you find a nearby Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or community health center.

Click on the link to find a health center close to you: Health Center Locator


5. Leverage Prescription Assistance Tools


Tip: Explore prescription assistance programs provided by pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and nonprofits to alleviate the cost of necessary medications.


Resource: GoodRx helps you search prescriptions and compare prices at different pharmacies based on your location. You can download GoodRx app and configure based on your prescription and then search for those drugs and compare prices at your near by pharmacies. You can get discount coupons for drugs for prescription medications. To learn about where you can find cheaper prescriptions by clicking on the following GoodRx link.


6. Seek Assistance from Nonprofit Organizations


Tip: Research and reach out to nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping individuals manage and reduce medical debt. They may offer financial assistance or connect you with resources.


Resource: Dollar For is a national nonprofit that helps patients access charity care and remove medical debt by advocating on patient’s behalf. According to their website most hospitals offer discounts or bill forgiveness based on income. On average, a family of 4 earning less than $100,000 a year will qualify. To check if you meet DollarFor assistance criteria click on the below link. You would need to enter your bill date, and bill amount along with other information. Go directly to the criteria form by clicking here DollarFor.


7. Educate Yourself on Patient Rights


Tip: Familiarize yourself with patient rights, especially those outlined in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Understanding your rights can protect you from unfair billing practices.


Resource: Healthcare.gov offers resources on consumer protections in the ACA, helping you understand your rights and navigate the healthcare system more effectively. Click on this Healthcare.gov to find out more about your healthcare rights and protections.


8. Consider Medical Bill Advocacy Services


Tip: If you find the billing process overwhelming, consider enlisting the help of medical bill advocates. They can review your bills, identify errors, and negotiate on your behalf.


Resource: Umbra Health Advocacy is one such organization and has a directory of 100s of certified advocates that you can connect directly based on your specific needs regarding medical bills and insurance claims and choosing and understanding health insurance. Click on the highlighted link to search for an advocate based on your needs.


 

Navigating medical bills can be challenging, but with the right resources and proactive steps, you can manage and reduce your healthcare expenses effectively. Utilizing these tips and connecting with relevant resources can make a significant difference in alleviating the financial burden associated with medical bills.


 


Source(s):

https://time.com/collection/best-inventions-2023/6326926/goodbill/

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2014/12/31/2014-30525/additional-requirements-for-charitable-hospitals-community-health-needs-assessments-for-charitable

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