When decide to go without medical insurance, you will need to be ready to tackle the consequences. Whether planned or unplanned, medical procedures can prove to be quite costly. Without having the insurance, you are solely responsible for paying for the entire cost. If you are unable to afford health insurance, you will be required to take proactive steps to deal with your medical bills. With the growing expenses of health care, paying off the health care bills is becoming difficult for even people with insurance. It is therefore necessary to be proactive because these bills can even lead to bankruptcy. In case of not having an insurance, look for a plan through the Affordable Care Act and get enrolled at the earliest.
Shop For Doctors, Urgent Cares, And Hospitals
Visit fees charged by different hospitals and doctors is different. Before you get sick, find out the least expense of these, by making calls to each of them. For example, the appointment fees for one urgent care facility is only $65, which is lesser than other such facilities and fees charged by most of the doctors for a routine visit. Prices for procedures also varies in different hospitals. If you are not bound by a network, then the least expensive option is worth going for.
Ask For Reduced Rates Or Pay In Advance
If your insurance is not covered most doctor will charge you a lower fees, upon asking for discount. For some services, you may get discount for paying in advance. For instance, paying for a baby deliver in advance rather than afterwards saves you money. This option might be there for medical tests or elective surgeries too. Although it does not help in an emergency, it can reduce your medical bills greatly.
Call And Pay In Cash
You should call and figure out a payment plan soon after you receive a hospital bill. Mostly you will be offered a reduced amount if you pay the full amount immediately. In case you have the amount available, you should pay it, otherwise you should immediately set up a payment plan. In case you delay communicating about payment plans, you will be sent to a collection agency in only 90 days, where negotiating for costs is more difficult.1
When your doctor prescribes you something ask for free samples. They mostly have plenty of free samples available for patients’ use. Moreover, you can seek generic versions of medicines from both the pharmacy and your doctor, which costs lesser. You may also be eligible for assistance by a prescription assistance program. You get medicines at an affordable price with the help of drug companies. Look for a pharmacy that sells them at lower price. There’s a list of medicines Walmart sells for just $4.2Compare that list with the one your doctor prescribes, to see if they work in your situation.
Set Up A Savings Account To Cover Medical Expenses
If decide against having a health insurance, you need to set up a monthly medical expense fund. Try saving a minimum of $100 per month to cover your health care bills. However, in case of getting a serious illness without insurance, you might be forced into becoming bankrupt. Additionally, if you choose to go without health insurance, you may be charged additional fines. As of 2019, the federal penalty for being uninsured is dismissed. However, multiple states, including Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Rhode Island, California as well as Massachusetts have implemented their own mandates modeled after the Affordable Care Act penalty.3
Consider Getting Insurance
At minimum, think about getting high deductible health insurance with a health savings account. This one is the cheapest option that will take care in case of serious illness or emergency surgery. You will be required to pay the entire cost out-of-pocket until your deductible is met, after which your full medical bills will be fully paid for the remaining of that year.4 A health savings account is an account which allows one to make contributions for the purpose of use toward one’s deductible, that shall not be charged on any interest earned. The amount in such savings account does roll over from year to year, that enables it easier to save for the long-term use.5
Health insurance is a need. It is ought to be deemed as a necessity as it protects you from medical expenses and allows you to get medical care whenever required, that can solve small problems before they turn into bigger ones.
Even if you do not have an insurance and end up in a hospital emergency doctors and medical professionals are still required to treat you like a regular patient, because the Emergency Medical Treatment And Labor Act or EMTALA “[ensures] that any person having any emergency medical condition, despite individual’s insurance coverage, shall not be denied essential lifesaving services for such purpose.”1
However, in case of not having a health insurance, you will be charged for all kinds of medical services from doctor fees to specialists’ payments. Without a guarantor to absorb part or most of those expenses, the bills can grow dramatically.
Who Pays For Medical Bills?
Depending on the insurance plan you possess, your health insurance looks after at least part of your medical bills, like doctor’s fees, emergency room trips and prescription drugs. The rest of the expenses will be paid by you through a copayment, coinsurance or a deductible, that is the money you pay until insurance coverage commences. Without that, you’ll be required to clear all the bills from doctor’s visit to the hospital. In case of non-emergency situation you can find out the expenses of treatment beforehand. Since the costs differ greatly, it is wise to know about it before time.
Negotiate Your Hospital Bills
Hospitals may give discounts or allow the payment of negotiated amounts to patients who do not have insurance. For instance, negotiated bills are usually divided into monthly payment. Whenever possible it always advisable to negotiate bills before being hospitalized, like for an elective surgery or delivery of a baby.
You can furthermore inquire about the financial aid programs, also known as “charity-care” from the hospital ombudsman or payment department, which will adjust the bills as per your ability to pay. In reality, low-income patients are to be offered assistance schemes by non-profit hospitals. Moreover, at times applying for aid can halt bill collectors. Hospitals would instead charge payments from patients for different reasons, such as collectors typically keeping half of what they get from patients.
An additional tip: Whenever possible, it is better you negotiate with an ombudsman, who generally resolves patient issues, instead of going to the billing department which exists for collecting revenue.
Besides, numerous individual doctors routinely deal with patients who are unable to pay the entire healthcare expense. Their policies differ but most of the doctors routinely reduce bills to half, for the needy and may even lower bills to as little as 10%.
Visit An Urgent Care Center
If you do not have a real emergency, you might want to go to a nearby urgent care facility. The professionals there, who might be nurse practitioners and not physicians, are capable of treating minor illnesses or injuries. In case they see that you require additional medical care or a visit to the ER, they will advise you. This facility costs nearly half of that charged at the ER. For instance, in an urgent care facility you will be charged for only the office visit and prescription drug or lab fee costs. In contrast, a trip to ER will include the hospital charges, doctors’ fees and the prescription and lab fees, which are always significantly higher than that charged by an urgent care facility. However, in the later one you may be required to pay beforehand in case you are uninsured.
Covering Your Visit With Health Insurance
Unfortunately, recently the number of uninsured and under-insured has grown. Presently around 28 million Americans are uninsured and approximately 30 million are underinsured. One of the reasons of this rise is that the federal government no longer bounds people to possess health insurance, though five states do require it: California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island, plus the District of Columbia.
The individual mandate calling for nearly everyone to possess health coverage or pay a tax penalty was passed in the year 2010 as a part of the Affordable Care Act. That led many to get insured, often cautiously comparing and going for a health plan that was most appropriate to their needs and budget.
But currently most people have dropped their insurance, as this section of the ACA is no longer being implemented by the federal government.
You can avoid paying the full cost of huge medical bills of a serious illness or injury, if you sign up for insurance at the time of Open Enrollment Period. Majority of the people become bankrupt due to medical expenses, compared to any other reason. Unquestionably, being insured plays a crucial part in helping people remain financially secure.
How Do You Pay For Medical Bills?
Mostly people use health insurance to pay bigger medical expenses. And most people depend on insurance given by their employers.
This insurance is cheaper than individual plans bought by people for themselves. This is because employers can divide the rate of health insurance into the big pool of employees. Most of the staff will pay for insurance coverage through money subtracted from their salaries. However, all employees will not need insurance for covering the huge medical costs. This enables employers to make this kind of medical coverage available at reduced costs.
Individual plans, however, are significantly costly, which becomes a problem in case you are not employed or the employer does not offer health insurance. As per eHealth, the average monthly price of a single health insurance policy – not the one offered by an employer – was $440 in 2018. The rate for a family’s health insurance plan was even pricier, up to an average $1,168 per month.
How Much Is A Hospital Visit Without Health Insurance?
Lastly there is the huge cost of health care. According to HRB Solutions, who are provider of medical care benefits to employers and their staff, in 2018 a doctor can charge from $150 to $300 for a regular appointment without insurance. And that excludes any tests done.
HRB said that the price of an ER visit at a hospital without health insurance can range from $375 to over $700.
Healthcare.gov has some additional stats, which says that the price of fixing a broken leg can be up to $7,500, whereas a 3-day hospital stay would cost an average of about $30,000.
And with increasing complications? Health care can charge rates that are simply unaffordable. The website says that charges for comprehensive cancer care will be hundreds of thousands of dollars.