You just went through a traumatic experience of going through an unexpected emergency room visit. Now you’re frantically searching ways on how to save on emergency room visits.
You have just received (or know you will receive) a major medical bill. Even if you have health insurance, medical bills or more specifically emergency room bills are through the roof. I know it may not feel like it right now but you have options.
But here are a couple of things you need to know in order to help you save on emergency bills. Some of which you may not have expected yet very effective. Now, let’s get into it!
Get Your Emotions Under Control Via Deep Breathing
I know you probably are looking for more tactical solutions (which we will get to next). Dealing with health issues on top of dealing with the dreaded aftermath of a big medical bill is an additional stress and if you’re not careful, additional medical issues.
According to researchers at Harvard Medical, learning how to preemptively handle this by simple deep breathing techniques can do wonders for reducing your anxiety levels and increasing your focus.
Therefore creating a positive ripple effect into the next portion of how to go about saving on your emergency room bill.
Ask for Detailed Bill
You want to know exactly what you are being charged for. This is where you basically go to the medical billing department and request a detailed bill. Then you would want to compare and contrast that with what you have on your bill versus what you have on your explanation of benefits.
Check for common mistakes
The people that do the medical coding are humans just like you and I. Furthermore, with everything going on these days they are probably overworked and understaffed, which leads to mistakes that can cost you a lot of money.
- Being charged for cat scan when you really got an MRI
- Being charged for multiple nights when you only were there one night
- Canceled tests or procedures
- Double charges
- Billed at out of network when it was really in network
These are just a couple of problems that can be a result of medical coding mistakes. If this is the case, definitely let your insurance company and your hospital administrator can work this out.
Get the Doctor to review the bill
This may seem a little counterintuitive but it can prove very effective. Doctors and nurses (particularly the doctors and nurses that personally took care of you) have a trained, medical eye that can spot any errors or procedures that were ordered but not actually done, billing something that didn’t make sense with the rest of the procedures, etc.
The key is to get to them as soon as you get the bill. Doctors and nurses see a lot of patients so the earlier you get it to them the more likely they’ll remember your case!
Ask the hospital to audit the bill
Remember there are two different parties (hospital side and the doctors side). Ask the hospital administrator to review it as well. They too have a trained eye that can detect what a general idea of what should be there versus not. Be friendly and respectful to them as they are busy people. Being nice in the long run can possibly save you thousands of dollars.
Ask for a Bill Reduction
- Be Nice-Don’t underestimate the power of being nice. Sometimes we think that we need to strong arm a customer service representative in order to get what we want.
Remember the old saying that honey catches more flies? Well there’s a reason why that saying has been around. Think about the times in your life when someone was rude to you while trying to get something from you. How well did that work out for them? Same thing here.
- Get to the point yet personal – Giving the customer service person a more personalized approach is really important and effective. Telling them more specifically what’s going on in your personal financial situation can be a huge determining factor in how they are able and willing to help you.
For example, did you lose your job due to COVID 19? Is your newly financial situation affecting your ability to your job (i.e. in the future affecting your ability to pay them in the future?)
- Don’t be afraid to tell them how it’s affecting you emotionally-Again with the human relational aspect of negotiating. The person on the other end is a human just like you and me. They have family members just like you and me. This is only from a genuine perspective. Here are some examples you could go with:
Being as honest with them as possible by telling them the specifics of what is going on and telling them how it’s affecting you emotionally can sway them. This is not to sway them from a manipulative standpoint!
If it’s to a hospital you can say something to the effect of “My health issues have been affecting my ability to do my job and I’m concerned that these medical bills are doing the same thing.
Pay as much as you can to leverage for bill reduction-Remember that old saying cash is king? Well, again there’s a reason why this saying has been around for a long time.
Cash talks to people. It shows them that they are serious about working with them and they are more likely to work with you. Did you recently get a tax return or a healthy bonus? Put as much of that as you feel comfortable doing. You never know until you ask.
- Negotiate based on surrounding hospital prices-Don’t be afraid to go to the surrounding areas and ask what they charge for the same procedures and then report that back to the hospital administrator as well as your doctor.
- Don’t forget about negotiating with the doctor (doctor and hospital bills are often separate bills.
Use Your Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account
In a state of panic or concern, we can sometimes not see the obvious of the current resources we have. These types of unexpected expenses have a high chance of getting covered through either a flexible spending account or health savings account.
Go The Social Media Route Or Talk to The News
After a significant period of time you feel you aren’t being genuinely heard or you feel like you are being taken advantage of by a big corporation like a big hospital, going to talk to the news or a journalist with a major social media following could prove very effective for you in terms of getting your medical bills adjusted or even taken off.
The last thing a big corporation needs is to be taken for a major social media meltdown. Not to misconstrue this for this taking advantage of social media but you can get action by making it public.
Apply for Payment Assistance
- Apply for payment assistance from non profits-There is a world of opportunity out there for you just waiting to help you out. Don’t be afraid to ask about it. This is especially true for people with low income.
- Ask about 0% interest program-Having an unexpected $4000 bill on top of other health issues can be detrimental to you especially if you’re already prone to anxiety. Asking them for monthly interest installments are definitely within the realm of possibility for hospitals. After all they’d rather have something come in versus not getting anything in because you can’t afford a $4000 chunk upfront.
Think about getting an advocate
Going through this alone can be scary not to mention it can cost you a lot in mistakes. Having someone that has been around the block in dealing with hospital administrators and major medical bills can be a huge benefit of having that person in your corner.
It can save you thousands of dollars in medical bills because they know what questions to ask, mistakes to look out for and so forth.
Reach out to an advocate today and see how they can help you! Patient Advocate Foundation is a free non-profit that can assist you!
Keep records of communication
Keeping the records of communication can save you in several ways. First it makes it easier to follow up in the event that you need to do that. Secondly, it lets the administrators know that you are organized and serious about getting this handled and thereby taking your requests more seriously. Some of the things that you need when dealing with this are:
- The employees name
- The location (sometimes)
- The reference number
If you don’t have insurance
Oftentimes if you don’t have insurance there are differences in the price of the services that hospitals have. The U.S. News recommends that you make it a point to tell them that.
Pay a little bit consistently
After making an agreement with your hospital and and doctor, it’s time to hold up your end of the bargain and pay it consistently every month so you don’t go into default and it goes into collections.
If you don’t have the funds in your budget, I would highly recommend you take a look at the next session.
If You Can’t Save Any More On Emergency Room Bills and There is No More Room in the Budget
If you have exhausted all other efforts, I would highly recommend that you take on a side hustle. I know that’s not exactly what you wanted to hear but if you can do nothing else to reduce or eliminate the cost, the only other option is to create more of a budget for you to work with.
If you don’t know what a side hustle is, it’s basically a side job that you know, are good at and you can make a fairly decent amount of money doing.
This can range anywhere from blogging, driving for uber or lyft, freelance writing, working as a teacher from home. The options are endless for you to tailor to your specific desires.
All in all these are just a few of very practical things you can do in order to get the costs more manageable. Getting things that you’re breathing down right via deep breathing, asking for a detailed description of the bill, checking for common mistakes, asking for a simple bill reduction, applying for payment assistance, hiring an advocate and keeping records of communication can be beneficial to your financial situation.
Above all else please do not underestimate the power of being nice. People will always be willing to go the extra miles for you and this can prove some massive savings for you!
Please let me know in the comments section below if you’ve handled anything like this before and what your experience has been with that. After all you may be help someone else out by simply sharing your story.