Medical bills are typically unexpected unknowns, but with chronic illness it becomes a necessary need to survive or to figure out how to find solutions to your health issues. It is an expense that piles up quickly, yet we are not prepared for it. It can leave us in great debt and often feeling overwhelmed. When something occurs in our body, money isn’t an object. Our health takes precedence to figure out what is happening and fix it as soon as possible. We want to get back to our normal lives and focus on what needs to get done in order to understand what is happening for us to feel this way. Our health is a survival requirement, but it carries expenses that we didn’t expect. When having a chronic illness, cost tends to be a long term, very expensive unwanted addition to your personal expenses that affect the rest of your life. So not only is chronic illness affecting your body, but also your lifestyle based on medical bills alone. This article is about figuring out where you stand exactly with medical bills from different organizations, so then you can focus on your health and have a grasp of what you owe. It is about not getting overwhelmed by medical expenses, rather creating the best aspects of your time and money that you can.
Understanding Where You Stand
Ask directly and track everything.
Appointments can come quickly and pile up before you know it. Understanding exactly what you owe from past visits can help you track future visits more easily. Contact every organization that you think you may owe something to and ask for a print out of every visit you owe from. Have them include the dates, what the visits are for, the cost of each visit, and what you owe. Also ask them if they have any payment plan options available if you feel that you can’t pay off the total within the time frame they give you, along with what the standards are for each payment plan. Once you have an understanding fully of what you owe, start to track every single visit that you have. To help with this check out the new “What Is Owed Packet” on the Nuanced Living Shop! (Come in large font as well!) This way you can see really how much you are spending each month on medical expenses. This will help lay the groundwork for what you need to pay off.
Making sure all the numbers add up!
A few ways to make sure your office visits, versus what your insurance says you owe, versus what you’ve already paid can tend to lead to a few discrepancies. Making sure you don’t overpay consider;
– If numbers don’t add up to you or you believe you should have a credit, make sure to clarify with the organization.
– Sometimes the organization will send you an “estimate” payment bill. This means they don’t know exactly how much insurance will cover, so they estimate the cost of the visit and also at the same time want you to pay that estimated cost. The insurance may cover more than the organization “estimated.” Once the claim has gone threw make sure to see if they charged more or less. This way you will know if you have a credit or not. Also if they are an organization that sends out “estimate” payment bills, always ask for a copy of everything to track what you actually owe once the claim goes through.
– There is a potential for test/procedures/surgeries to need a preauthorization. If you do need this, make sure it happens before you actually have the test/procedures/surgeries. This will make sure you don’t get charged the full amount of a visit. If an organization doesn’t contact you to tell you if it’s been authorized you can always call your insurance.
– If a claim gets denied, make sure to contact the health care providers office immediately. If they stated your insurance would cover them and your insurance isn’t it typically means the health care provider processed the claim and they need to fix it.
– Always keep receipts. You can also write off copays (Check out “Understanding Medical Expenses”)!
Know the benefits and requirements of your insurance!
Insurance is a key to helping get the most out of your health care, but there are rules and regulations for each insurance provider, making each insurance provider and plan very different. Insurances have limits on which health care providers you can see, along with treatments that they will cover. When setting up an appointment with any organization make sure to ask if the health care provider you are seeing and the treatment that you may be having is covered under your specific insurance plan. They can provide an answer before you even set up an appointment. Along with knowing who and what is covered, it is important to know exactly what your deductible limit is and what your out of pocket limit is. These are important figures to know, because unlike knowing what and who, typically health care provider offices don’t know when you’ve reach your deductible or out of pocket. Your deductible and out of pocket is a total for all organizations you see, therefore one office won’t know what your other charges are from other organizations to know if you have hit your limit until after they have billed your insurance, which typically means you were given an estimated charge or charged a copay that was potentially unnecessary. Knowing your personal and family deductible, along with out of pocket will help to not get overcharged. So the health care providers may help with figuring out who you can see, but know that it is still your responsibility to your debt to understand what your basic numbers are, along with understanding what health care providers and treatments you are willing to spend more on if they are not covered by your insurance plan.
Getting the most for your money.
Time with a health care provider can be short and a lot of money, below are a few ways to ensure that each minute with the provider is not wasted. It is so important to make sure you utilize the time you have with a health care provider to the fullest.
– Make sure to go in with the right questions and a list of what you want to talk about. Check out “The Right Questions to Ask Your Doctor” for ways to ensure you are getting the most out of each visit
– Choose the right providers. There is a range of health care providers that provide similar services, but make sure that you find a health care provider that fits your needs and expectations to be a great teammate in this process. With chronic illness you will see your health care provider several times, so make sure to pick the right person for you.
– If a health care provider lays out steps, try to complete those steps to the best of your ability. This will help to fully see if what they offered to see if it worked or didn’t. If you feel uncomfortable with what they are offering, tell them before you leave the visit.
– Utilize the ability to contact them. Often organizations have a way to contact your health care provider. Contact them between visits if something they offered doesn’t work, or you feel that you can’t continue their plan for whatever reasons you feel uncomfortable with. If you contact them they may suggest another plan or method to try before your next visit. This saves a lot of time and money.
– If you have to travel a distance to get to your appointments, try to make all your appointments in one day, this will save on transportation and other expenses, along with time.
The bills will add up and continue to add up.
With chronic illness the potential for seeing multiple health care providers, doing multiple tests, and experimenting with lots of treatments is more than likely. The process may last more than expected, then adding a multiple year process to figuring out your best formula and even within that it still may require a rhythm of having multiple appointments each year. With budgeting, even if you have had an extremely strict budget and only go base off your out of pocket (which is often unrealistic), know that this may continue each year and the years can add up to one another very quickly. Even just by adding extra medical expenses (i.e. prescriptions, equipment, etc.) can add up quickly. To help with this check out the new “What Is Owed Packet” on the Nuanced Living Shop! (Come in large font as well!) Within this process know that your health is not a credit card where you find yourself overspending and you back off and pay it off, then indulge again. It is a health issue, a lifetime investment within yourself, but more importantly an issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You should do only what you feel comfortable with and extend yourself in the process only to the amount you want, but this is a process and setting a limit on how much you spend can potentially hinder your health. This means that your bills will keep adding up, but continue to learn how to manage knowing where you stand to continue seeking your best formula.
Make sure to check out the Nuanced Living Shop and all the packets that can help your health journey a lot easier!
How do you not get overwhelmed with the idea of debt, to make sure you keep seeking your right formula?
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