Managing medical costs is causing Americans great stress. Over 60% of Americans have medical bills that were larger than they planned. Over 90% of medical bills reviewed by patient advocacy representatives contain errors. The number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States is medical bills.
Hospitals, doctors, and care providers don’t routinely inform patients that they have the power to negotiate their medical bills. Most people who are chronically ill or face a devastating diagnosis are just trying to navigate their own care and get well or manage their illness in the best way possible. Spending time dissecting medical bills line-by-line just isn’t on their to-do list.
Family members and close friends are important advocates, and it’s crucial to have them close by during doctor’s visits and especially during times of stress like emergency room visits and when hospitalization is necessary. However, most people are trained to be the “good patient” and follow doctor’s orders. Even friends and family who have the patient’s best interests at heart may not be comfortable challenging perceived authority figures.
Here are a few resources that people with mounting medical bills find helpful
Copatient is a patient advocacy site where patients can upload their bills in a digital format, get a review and free report and then decide whether to use the service to negotiate savings on their medical bills. The company receives a portion of the savings in exchange for the service. The company is just three years old and already has over 20,000 customers.
Nerdwallet offers a service that offers education tools, medical bill audits, and user-friendly explanations of confusing bills. They offer insurance quotes and extensive explanations of how most insurance plans work.
The Kahn Academy offers an online tutorial that explains what happens in the area of billing after a doctor’s visit. The 12-minute video covers how medical bills are created, how costs are calculated, and how private or public insurance may apply to the charges. Other videos in the series include an introduction to the U.S. health care system, how private health insurance works, and copays and deductibles on medicines.
Navigating the landscape of modern healthcare in America is challenging, to say the least. The best time to seek outside help is before the bills pile up and stress levels rise.