Monday, March 19, 2012

How to Get Help Paying Your Medical Bills

This week’s topic was inspired by Denise Sikora of DL Health Claim Solutions, LLC, Woodbridge, NJ

Are your medical bills piling up?  Are you struggling to pay for doctor’s visits, dental cleanings, surgery, or emergency services?  You may feel like you’re drowning in debt with nowhere to turn, but there are steps you can take to help reduce or eliminate your medical bills.

Understand Your Bills
First, make sure you know what you’re paying for.  Read your insurance company’s explanations of benefits, or contact the medical facilities who have billed you.  Question every item on each of your bills.  Mistakes on medical bills are unfortunately very common, and patients are often overcharged, or charged more than once for a service.  Make sure you know exactly what your insurance covered, and what amount you’re responsible to pay.

Copy Your Bills
Gather all of your current medical bills.  If you don’t have paper statements, contact your hospital, doctor, or insurance company for copies.  Some offices even allow you to login to their web site and view your statements online.  Make copies of all of your most recent bills.

Find Addresses
Find addresses for you all of the medical facilities who have sent you bills.  Many provide a PO box for payments, but have another address for correspondence.  You may need to call each office to request either their correspondence address, fax number, or e-mail address.

Write a Letter
Write a “hardship letter.”  This letter should detail your current financial situation, and the reasons you are unable to pay your bills.  Did you lose your job?  Has an injury or illness prevented you from working?  Do you have an excess of bills from other facilities?  List all of this information in your letter, and be specific.  Mention if you are currently struggling to pay household bills, or receiving financial assistance such as unemployment compensation, welfare, or food stamps.

Request a “Write Off”
Close your letter by requesting that each facility “write off” your bill.  What medical facilities don’t want you to know, is that they are sometimes able to write off unpaid bills on their annual tax returns, effectively wiping the slate clean for those like you who are struggling to pay.

Send Your Letter
Mail, fax, or e-mail a copy of your hardship letter, along with a copy of each bill, to the respective facilities.  You may even want to mail, fax, AND e-mail your letter, to ensure it gets to the right person.

Follow Up
Wait two weeks.  If you do not hear from any of the facilities, call to follow up.  If they have not received your letter, send it through a different contact method.

Negotiate
A facility may tell you that your bill cannot be entirely written off.  If so, ask if they can write off 75% of your bill.  The goal is to ask for as much as you can possibly get, and work with the facility from there.  They may offer to write off a smaller amount, like 30% of your bill.  In that case, request that they allow you to make low monthly payments, like $10 per month, to cover the remaining balance.  Facilities will often work with you if you offer to make payments toward your bill, instead of flat out refusing to pay.

Get Help
If any facility will not write off any part of your bill, or allow you to make low monthly payments, it’s time to consult an expert.  Health advocates are available to contact your insurance company and medical facilities as your representative, and work with them to eliminate reduce your bills (for a fee).  If you are in South Jersey, or the Philadelphia area, contact Denise Sikora at DL Health Claim Solutions, LLC.  Her web site and contact information are below.

If your medical care has you struggling to pay a pile of bills, follow these steps and you will be on your way to freedom from medical debt.

Special thanks to Denise Sikora of DL Health Claim Solutions, LLC, for the valuable information in this week’s article.  Contact her for assistance in negotiating your medical bills:

DL Health Claim Solutions, LLC
53 Main St. Suite 6
Woodbridge, NJ 07095
732-640-1006
Fax:  866-686-3515
E-mail:  dsikora@dlhealthclaim.com
Web Site:  www.dlhealthclaim.com

Words:  708
Research and Writing Time:  65 minutes

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