HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM CATASTROPHIC MEDICAL BILLS
Do you worry about high medical bills? If you don’t have health insurance or have a high-deductible health plan, there’s a good chance you would get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills if you were in an accident, got sick, or landed in the emergency room.
Whether you’re familiar with Medicare or just getting started, you need to be able to protect yourself from expensive medical bills. Original Medicare Parts A and B can leave you with unexpected out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Supplemental insurance, like Medigap plans, cost you less in the long run, and you can pair it with other protection strategies to keep yourself covered. Medical expenses can add up quickly and it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got all the coverage you need before an unexpected bill takes you by surprise.
The average cost of a hospital stay without insurance can cost nearly $10,000 and even a doctor’s visit with blood work can end up costing a few hundred dollars. Many Americans just don’t have several thousand dollars available to cover the costs of a medical emergency.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from catastrophic medical bills:
GET EXTRA COVERAGE WITH SUPPLEMENTAL INSURANCE
Many people aren’t aware they have the option to buy additional coverage beyond what their Medicare insurance covers.Some options, such as Medigap plans, cost you less in the long run. Medigap plans, or Medicare Supplement insurance plans, are a type of supplemental health insurance that reduce out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. It reduces copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance payouts in specific areas, such as hospital stays, skilled facility services, and sometimes even foreign travel emergencies.
Other supplemental plans, like Hospital Indemnity insurance, provide a lump-sum benefit. For example, if you ended up staying overnight in the hospital, you would receive your benefit and could use that money to cover medical costs, transportation, and any other expenses. Some plans can pay up to $50,000 or more and have a very low monthly premium.
BE PREPARED TO NEGOTIATE
Did you know you can negotiate hospital and doctor charges? If you don’t say anything, your medical provider will go ahead and send a bill with an expectation of payment immediately. Take the time to review your bills in detail and your insurance benefits to determine what is and isn’t covered. Knowing your policy details will help you determine whether the hospital or doctor is overcharging you.
It’s also a good idea to check for errors and discrepancies — billing errors and mistakes could mean you are paying a few extra hundred dollars. If you’re being charged appropriately but simply can’t afford to pay, talk to your medical provider to see if they can offer a payment plan or adjust your fees so you can make a timely payment without penalties or excessive charges.
WHY MEDIGAP PLANS COST YOU LESS IN THE LONG RUN
If you are relying on Original Medicare alone, you could be faced with unexpected out-of-pocket costs that add up. While Medigap plans charge a monthly premium, they can cover a large chunk (and sometimes even all) of those expenses.This can prevent high medical bills and also give you some peace-of-mind.
Find out how much Medigap plans cost to help protect you from catastrophic medical bills.