I’m sure I’m not the only one to find that beating (or stabilizing) a deadly disease is only half the battle. Paying for it is the other half.
After shattering her ankle in a fall down the attic steps. Tina Jordan faced $1 million in medical debt beyond what her insurance company had paid out. Below are the steps she took (and recommends) to climb out of that debt and get on with life.
1 First, keep a binder with all the bills, insurance claims, receipts, etc. When you call someone, make a note of their name and day of call right on the bill “I would write I talked to X on this day and they said do this,” said Tina. Take copious notes!
2 Explore every option, not just talking to the billing office.
3 Speak to the social worker at the hospital. They’re usually full of good information, such as where to apply for assistance or other places to look for help.
4. Contact your benefits person through your employer or insurance agent. Or ask if the insurance company has a medical advocate who will help navigate the billing process.
5. Write a letter to the doctor or hospital asking for debt forgiveness or a discount. “Asking people to discount the bill did work,” said Tina.
6. Hire a mediator to go over bills, look for errors and negotiate directly with the medical provider.
7. File appeals with your insurance company. Once they’re exhausted, see if your state’s insurance department offers an appeals process.
8. When all else fails, contact an elected representative. “My state rep was most helpful,” said Tina. After working together, her state rep actually got legislation passed outlawing “balance billing” which allows medical providers to bill patients if they charge more than the contracted rate allowed by the insurance company.
9. Ask everyone you know if they know anyone who works in medical billing who can make sense of the bills and offer ideas for getting fees waived or discounted.
10. Push through the fear and make the necessary calls. “I would vow to make one call a day. It seems daunting, but chip away at it,” said Tina.