When families find themselves facing a mountain of debt due to a medical emergency, the usual mistake is to let apprehension and worry get the best of them when they should step back, take a deep breath and take stock of the situation. Indeed, clouded minds result to bad decisions. When confronted with unpaid medical bills, the last thing you need to do is to try to ignore the problem when you have to do the exact opposite: be proactive.
Unless hospitalization was the result of an emergency, like a car accident or heart attack, most procedures are usually scheduled. Before admitting yourself or loved one in the hospital, talk to your insurance company just so you know there are no surprises. Talk about what kind of emergency procedures or lab tests that are covered by your policy and how much of the total cost would be written off.
Also, talk to your doctor or the billing department first for any kind of programs that helps individuals like you. It might surprise you that hospitals are only too willing to slash off at least 20% of the total cost if you only ask (some hospitals even cut half the total costs if you pay cash upfront) Letting your doctor or hospital know that you are keeping a close watch on your expenses will also warn them against recommending you for any superfluous procedures.
Then discuss with your hospital your payment plan. Historically, hospitals are willing to work with patients to manage their unpaid medical bills because the alternative is a long litigation process of collecting the owed amount. They either have to send the unpaid medical bills to collection agencies, which will not assure them of payment anyway. What you are looking for is a payment plan that will allow you to pay the minimum amount over an extended period.
Don’t fall for the billing department’s persuasions to pay your unpaid medical bills with your credit card. That will only convert your medical bills, which are considered as unsecured debt, int a secured one. This means that they can go after your house, car, appliances, jewelry or any other assets.