Medical bills continue to be a major financial problem for millions of Americans. More people than ever are covered by health insurance policies, but there are still reports of people receiving surprise medical bills in the thousands of dollars.
We have discussed the concept of balance billing on this blog before. Balance billing is where you are charged the difference between what your insurance company will pay and what a health services provider chooses to charge. This may happen when you receive services from a doctor or specialist who is out-of-network.
Many state lawmakers are developing legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills in certain situations. State lawmakers in New Hampshire, Washington, New Jersey and Colorado are considering legislation that would further curb this practice. Oregon’s anti-balance billing law goes into effect this month.
Other states with comprehensive balance billing protections include California, New York, Maryland, Illinois, Florida and Connecticut. Federal lawmakers have also considered legislation that would protect patients from balance billing (the End Surprise Billing Act).
How Can I Handle Surprise Medical Bills?
Missouri and Kansas have not addressed this policy issue yet. However, there are a couple of ways you could handle a surprise medical bill. You could research beforehand whether the individuals involved in your care are covered by your health insurance provider. This includes services that resulted from referrals. However, this may not possible during an emergency.
You could also negotiate the prices of the services you received at the hospital or clinic. Your insurance provider may also be willing to cover a portion of the costs. Also, consider the possibility that your bill could contain errors. You could request an itemized bill to look for duplicate charges or for services that you never received. Some hospitals also have financial aid or charity programs that could significantly reduce the cost of the bill. You could enquire about your eligibility for these programs.
There are cases where it may be necessary to discharge medical bills in bankruptcy. Our Kansas City bankruptcy attorneys could help you determine whether this is the right choice for your situation. For future updates on personal finance, continue to follow The Sader Law Firm on Facebook and Twitter.