Tips for Managing Medical Debt
Whether or not you are insured, you may find yourself struggling with outstanding medical bills from your cancer treatment. Consider the following options.
If You are Insured
Read your insurance policy and understand the terms of your contract. If you have questions, ask your insurance company, insurance broker, or the human resources staff at your place of employment to explain it to you. Your insurer may have denied a claim even though you are entitled to coverage. The Kaiser Family Foundation has an excellent guide on how to dispute claims with your insurer. For more information, HealthCare.gov has an excellent guide on how to dispute claims with at www.healthcare.gov/appeal-insurance-company-decision/appeals/ or read CancerCare’s fact sheet titled, “Understanding Your Insurance Coverage.”
Ask the hospital or doctor to consider the insurance payment as “payment in full.” Many people don’t think to do this, and it is often more successful than expected. Some hospitals have funds to offset medical services that aren’t fully covered by insurance.
Whether or Not You Have Insurance
Double check all bills and EOBs (explanation of benefits). You’d be surprised how often billing mistakes are made. If you don’t receive an itemized bill, ask for one. Look for incorrect dates of service (for instance, you shouldn’t be billed for the room on the day you were discharged) and fees billed more than once for the same test or procedure.
Work out a payment plan. Often, doctors and hospitals are willing to negotiate interest-free monthly payments.
Seek out help from nonprofit organizations such as the Patient Advocate Foundation (800-532-5274 or www.patientadvocate.org) and CancerCare. Call 800-813-HOPE (4673) and speak with a CancerCare professional oncology social worker who can help you explore your options and find appropriate resources.