February 2019 Healthcare Forum

 Insider Strategies to Lower Your Healthcare Costs

If you’ve worried about escalating out-of-pocket medical and insurance costs, you are not alone. A national poll in 2017 revealed that 82% of Americans were worried greatly or moderately about the affordability of healthcare; 21% delayed treatment due to cost.

The #1 cause of personal bankruptcy is medical bills. What are some insider (Dr. Lazarus and Dr. Foster) strategies to reduce your cost?

I Medical Bills (like buying a new car) are Negotiable

  1. Discuss medical bills with your doctor(s) and health facilities before incurring them.
  2. Clarify if all or only part of medical services are “in-network” with your insurance company.
  3. Get an estimate of what amount your insurance will pay; what’s your responsibility. Try to get it in writing.
  4. Don’t be shy to have a family member or your patient advocate assist you.

II Scrutinize Bills for Common Errors

  1. Check for services/medications you never received.
  2. You want an itemized bill, not a balance due.
  3. Make certain your primary, secondary (and tertiary) insurances have paid their full amount before you pay the (correct) balance due.
  4. Don’t pay your “balance” with a credit card or any other means because your portion of what’s due is still negotiable. Ask if your balance can be paid with an interest-free payment plan or reduced because of a financial hardship.
  5. Pay bills before they go to collections, which can hurt your credit rating.

III Be a Good Negotiator

  1. Hospitals/doctors don’t want overdue bills.
  2. Ask for a discount of your “balance due” if you can pay the total now.
  3. Consider a medical billing service or have a family member/advocate negotiate a reduction of your balance.

IV Don’t Leave Your Spouse/Family Burdened with Your Medical Bills

  1. Complete all documents (e.g. Living Will, POLST, POA for health/financial decisions) so everyone knows and agrees to carry out your end-of-life wishes.
  2. Have the “conversation” with everyone so all are on the “same page.”
  3. Consider Hospice and palliative care, which are often more humane and much less costly than weeks in an intensive care unit with little prospects of returning to a quality life.

If you have friends/family members you think can benefit from our timely updates and monthly forums, please ask them to send their email address to our website – www.qualityaffordablehealthcare.net.

We welcome questions you have about obtaining quality affordable healthcare from our complicated, sometimes dysfunctional healthcare system. Our answers will appear on our website and/or be emailed to you. Please provide your address.

For March’s forum, we’ll discuss reasons we believe (in all modesty) our book, Insider’s Guide to Quality, Affordable Healthcare, may be a valuable addition alongside your dictionary, Merck manual, and Thesaurus.

Best wishes for a healthy and long life,

Dr. Larry Lazarus
Dr. Jeff Foster

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