Epilepsy Talk

Hospital Bill Relief for the Uninsured | March 21, 2019

One of the best-kept secrets in the healthcare industry is that there are financial and charitable aid programs available to lighten the staggering financial and emotional burden caused by medical expenses.

Believe it or not, that financial aid department can become your best friend.  They have the power to make your bills more manageable…consolidate them…discount them…and work out a payment plan at reduced cost.

But first, you have to ask…

Lowering your hospital bill

Ask for an itemized medical bill. Often mistakes are made which can erase thousands of dollars from your bill.  (Many hospitals don’t audit their bills before they send them or unless a patient inquires.)  So, before you begin to talk, make sure you know the exact (and correct) amount of what you owe.

Then, see if there’s a financial counselor at the hospital. Once you know the actual figures — daunting as they are – you can ask about negotiating the charges.  Often you can lower the total bill amount – without interest — by setting up a regular payment plan.

Another option is to ask for a discount for paying the bill off in full. Keep in mind, you need to pay it off by a certain time, to be eligible for this arrangement at most institutions.

Remember, the financial counselor or cashier at the hospital is a living, breathing, human being.  And although there’s only a certain amount they can do, they really want to help you!  They’ll be much more amenable to helping you if you show good faith and if you are really sincere about paying your bill.  (No one, not even them, wants a collection agency sniffing around their door!)

But it’s essential that, if you set up a payment plan, you MUST honor it!

If you’re going to be late, or have to send only a partial payment, call and explain.  In fact, start dealing with one particular person and develop a relationship with him or her.  They could become a valuable friend and contact who can help you in the future.

Eliminating your hospital bill

This can take a considerable amount of jumping through hoops, but the time spent is well worth it.

The catch with receiving help from a hospital’s financial aid department is that you have to exhaust all other available resources. First, you must apply for and use any other public medical benefits. If you still have medical bills, then the hospital’s financial aid department will consider your application.

To qualify for 100% elimination of your medical bills, most hospitals require that your annual income does not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level.  You will usually be required to submit proof of income for the 12 months preceding your medical care. (This is how they calculate your “annual” income)

You’ll also be required to list your assets. The financial aid department will want to know whether you have money in savings, checking, a certificate of deposit (CD), Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), trust funds, or equity in real estate that is not your primary residence. Most hospitals will require a statement from your financial institution detailing your assets.

If you don’t have a job or assets, you will need to sign an affidavit indicating this.

Most states have a Charities Fund to pay unexpected medical expenses. It’s for those who slip through the cracks. They have too much money for Medicaid, but can’t pay their bills without insurance. Tell the hospital business office to submit your bill to the State Charities Fund.

If they say they’ve never heard of it, or no such fund exists, call your State Representative and make him earn his salary. He can find out for you.

If your income is low, there’s also a federal “magic wand” that can erase some, if not all, of your medical bills.

It’s called the “Hill-Burton” plan. (The hospital will know of this.)

Years ago, two men with the last names of Hill and Burton created a bill which assists people with medical expenses, unable to pay them. It’s only for people of limited financial means.

If you Google “Hill-Burton Act” or go to https://www.hrsa.gov/get-health-care/affordable/hill-burton/facilities.html you’ll find a gold mine of information about who qualifies, which facilities are obligated to provide free or reduced-cost health care and how to apply.  The Hill-Burton Hotline is 1-800-638-0742 or 1-800-492-0359 in Maryland.

 

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References:

https://www.lendingtree.com/personal/how-to-negotiate-medical-bills/

https://www.stretcher.com/stories/980923c.cfm

https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-negotiate-medical-bills-1387808

https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/pay-down-my-debt/get-hospital-bill-reduced-even-eliminated1389897953/

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/10/16/5-expert-tips-for-negotiating-your-medical-bills

 


9 Comments »

  1. And this is why people with chronic health conditions in the rest of the industrialised world don’t want to live in the US. NO ONE should ever have to have that kind of stress hanging over them, it is so wrong on so many levels, and completely incomprehensible. I sincerely hope that one day you’ll be able to be treated as ‘patients/people’ and not ‘clients/billables.’

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Katie — March 21, 2019 @ 10:23 PM

  2. Kudos to you Katie. I don’t think anyone could say it better!

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 21, 2019 @ 10:30 PM

  3. I didn’t want to say it because that wasn’t the point of the article, but thank God I live in a country with Universal Healthcare. I am currently on vacation in the US and people have told me they’ve heard it takes so long to get treatment in Canada, but I can tell you based on my experiences and those of my family with different situations that is not the case.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Marlyn — March 22, 2019 @ 1:37 AM

    • Marlyn, I can’t even go on vacation to the US. It’s hard enough getting epilepsy cover with travel insurance at the best of times these days, but the premiums for travel to the US are the highest to the point of being unaffordable. Even if I could afford the premium I’d be too nervous about going there in the event of medical treatment being needed. Incredible that insurance to going to the centre of Africa (with dodgy/inaccessable medicl services and would necessitate excpensive airlifts out) is cheaper than insurance for the US…

      And agree. Also in a country with universal healthcare- the system isn’t perfect but for the most it doesn’t take forever to get treatment.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Katie — March 22, 2019 @ 6:01 PM

  4. I’m jealous! 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 22, 2019 @ 9:44 AM

  5. Hi Phyllis!
    Can you please tell me why your post of 3/22 https://epilepsytalk.com/2019/03/22/medical-care-free-or-reduced-cost/ was taken down?
    Thank you!!

    Like

    Comment by Holly — March 26, 2019 @ 7:36 AM

    • Sorry, Holly. It was no longer current.

      Several of the resources have disappeared.

      Like the Free Medical Camps. 😦

      But this link may help:

      Epilepsy — Top Financial and Medical Assistance Programs

      https://epilepsytalk.com/2019/03/19/epilepsy-top-financial-and-medical-assistance-programs/

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 26, 2019 @ 9:14 AM

      • May I please ask if the resources in Canada are good enough to travel to the United States of America? I am almost afraid to TRY AND GET TRAVEL INSURANCE HERE IN CANADA!! Thank you for all that you do Phylis I/WE WILL ALWAYS GREATLY APPRECIATE YOU!! 🙏🏼🦅😇💕

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — April 8, 2019 @ 4:00 PM

      • I know zip about travel to and from Canada.

        You could inquire about travel insurance.

        But I think if you got sick here, you’re be in a bad place. 😦

        Like

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 8, 2019 @ 4:52 PM


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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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