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What tips do you have for dealing with medical debt?

Our insurance is pretty crappy. On paper our family's gross in come looks good. Too good to get any assistance.But after taxes and insurance comes out we bring home 3,000 a month. Of that 850 goes to minimum payments on current hospital bills. Another 250 to prescriptions ( more if we get an acute illness) . Plus co-payments for doctors visits is usually about 150 a month. This does not count dental or vision expenses either.

And it is getting worse, not better. DH has a total shoulder replacement surgery next week. He needs blood work and an ekg and a co-pay for pre-op physical. He needs an upper and lower Gi and he needs a chest CT scan for a spot on his lung (he is a 55 y old smoker, so this may be really bad. but I don't want to hear it because I can not make him quit smoking and I know how bad it is for him and how much it costs. It is beyond my control, only he can change it). Ds broke his foot and we have not even got the bill for that yet. Plus DS and Dh will both need physical therapy at 30 bucks a visit starting really soon. Ds and Dh need glasses. I owe Ds dentist 160 dollars and he has a cavity now. I need cholesterol test done, but I am gonna skip it. Can't afford the 200 bucks. I called a free health screening clinic three times and they won't call me back. Since I am 34 and have a job I am not on their priority list for a free test/

I estimate after dh's surgery and tests we will owe another 4,000 in bills to four different places. So that will be 200-300 more a month gone. And if his lung Ct is bad, I can't even think about it.

So far we are somehow keeping the hospitals at bay, but very soon we are going to have to make some drastic changes to keep up. If we don't pay the doctors , they won't see us. If we don't take our medacine, we get sick. I have tried negotiating with hospitals but they all want 50 to 200 a month. Don't get we wrong, I appreciate that they are caring for and helping my family. They deserve to be paid.

Whenever we ask for help we get turned down. Hospital A does not care that we are already paying a ton to hospital B,C and D. They want their 100 bucks every month. I have tried to explaine to them that if they will take 25 dollars a month for say 6 months, We will send them 100 after we get the other hospital paid off 6 months from now. They say no.

I am going to look other places on this board to try and reduce expenses more, because I think I can, but how do you deal with medical debt that you can't control.
 

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Most medidcal insurance policies have an out-of-pocket maximum - the insurance we use through my husbands work is $10k per year[which is high] - the out-of-pocket maximum usually means once reached all coverage is 100% until the policy renews, usually the first of the year. If the money you are laying out is for this years medical expenses, I would recommend seeing how close you are to your maximum - should help with the costs associated with your dh surgery.
 
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What tips do you have for dealing with medical debt?

Our insurance is pretty crappy. On paper our family's gross in come looks good. Too good to get any assistance.But after taxes and insurance comes out we bring home 3,000 a month. Of that 850 goes to minimum payments on current hospital bills. Another 250 to prescriptions ( more if we get an acute illness) . Plus co-payments for doctors visits is usually about 150 a month. This does not count dental or vision expenses either.

And it is getting worse, not better. DH has a total shoulder replacement surgery next week. He needs blood work and an ekg and a co-pay for pre-op physical. He needs an upper and lower Gi and he needs a chest CT scan for a spot on his lung (he is a 55 y old smoker, so this may be really bad. but I don't want to hear it because I can not make him quit smoking and I know how bad it is for him and how much it costs. It is beyond my control, only he can change it). Ds broke his foot and we have not even got the bill for that yet. Plus DS and Dh will both need physical therapy at 30 bucks a visit starting really soon. Ds and Dh need glasses. I owe Ds dentist 160 dollars and he has a cavity now. I need cholesterol test done, but I am gonna skip it. Can't afford the 200 bucks. I called a free health screening clinic three times and they won't call me back. Since I am 34 and have a job I am not on their priority list for a free test/

I estimate after dh's surgery and tests we will owe another 4,000 in bills to four different places. So that will be 200-300 more a month gone. And if his lung Ct is bad, I can't even think about it.

So far we are somehow keeping the hospitals at bay, but very soon we are going to have to make some drastic changes to keep up. If we don't pay the doctors , they won't see us. If we don't take our medacine, we get sick. I have tried negotiating with hospitals but they all want 50 to 200 a month. Don't get we wrong, I appreciate that they are caring for and helping my family. They deserve to be paid.

Whenever we ask for help we get turned down. Hospital A does not care that we are already paying a ton to hospital B,C and D. They want their 100 bucks every month. I have tried to explaine to them that if they will take 25 dollars a month for say 6 months, We will send them 100 after we get the other hospital paid off 6 months from now. They say no.

I am going to look other places on this board to try and reduce expenses more, because I think I can, but how do you deal with medical debt that you can't control.
I know how you feel, everytime my husband goes into the hospital it cost $10,000 plus for up to 2 days. I thought of bankrupcty but that would not solve the problem. Good luck, I will be watching. I wish thatI was able to help.
 

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Whenever we ask for help we get turned down. Hospital A does not care that we are already paying a ton to hospital B,C and D. They want their 100 bucks every month. I have tried to explaine to them that if they will take 25 dollars a month for say 6 months, We will send them 100 after we get the other hospital paid off 6 months from now. They say no.
You aren't asking them for permission, they aren't your parents. Send them the 25 dollars a month, it will hold them at bay, focus on one at a time and get them knocked out. They wont (shouldn't, at least in my experience) send you to collections as long as you are sending something EVERY month without them having to come after you. Don't let them bully you, you are the one with the bill and you are paying it. You are not defaulting, you are not ignoring them, just stay focused and pay everyone a little something every month and one person/place a big payment to get it knocked out. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
 

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Do you own a home? You might be able to put your hospital bills on a home equity line of credit so the total monthly payment is manageable.

Disability (SSDI) for husband? It takes 2-3 tries to get approved most of the time, at least 9 months. He doesn't get health insurance (medicare) until 2 years after acceptance into the plan. (Medicare is $1200 hospital deduct, $160 doc visit deduct, 80/20 coverage. You pay $100 for Medicare and about $40 for an RX plan.) There is some help available but your work income will probably put you over the income limit for more help. Is Medicare better coverage? (The doc needs to say his health problems will last over a year and he may not be able to return to the same working situation.)

How long will husband's recovery take? Will he be able to work or even find work in his old field taking into account his new functioning level post-illness?

How long can you handle 2 jobs? Do you have older kids at home you could count upon to do the housework, yard work and cooking? This could make 2 jobs possible for you.

How long could you handle working two jobs compared to how long your husband's expected recovery will take? If this is going to go on for say more than a year, you might look into changing living arrangements now. (Moving to a dinky apartment/grandparent's home and sharing rooms could motivate tweens and teens to help out around the house.)

More cost cutters:
1. Walmart $4-a-month-drugs - Is there anything your husband is taking that has a drug in the same category on the Wal-mart list? Talk to pharmacist about switching. (Ex. blood pressure, high cholesterol, anti-biotics, etc.) Change them one at a time so you will have an idea what caused a reaction if anything strange happens. I have used these without any complaints.
2. Cholesterol tests - Local health department, Walgreens clinics and gym member's health check days. (Runs $35 at most.)
3. Cholesterol help - "South Beach Diet" and eat oatmeal every morning.
4. Sell a car?
 

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You aren't asking them for permission, they aren't your parents. Send them the 25 dollars a month, it will hold them at bay, focus on one at a time and get them knocked out. They wont (shouldn't, at least in my experience) send you to collections as long as you are sending something EVERY month without them having to come after you. Don't let them bully you, you are the one with the bill and you are paying it. You are not defaulting, you are not ignoring them, just stay focused and pay everyone a little something every month and one person/place a big payment to get it knocked out. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
Nope, that won't work, at least it hasn't worked for us, we are sending $80 to two different accounts monthly = $160/month OUCH! and, still, they say that is not enough to keep us out of collections. I say it's all we can squeeze since there are 5 various billers, they say they do not care. I tell them f I'd send $150 to everyone like each of them are asking, we will go bankrupt. These two highest ones are still getting $80 each, one already sent us to collections after 4 months. The other is threatening now it's been six months. I hate them and their ideas - I am PAYING! That's more than they can say for most, I bet.

Amanda911 - we are experiencing similar things, sorry for your troubles. I wish I had some good advice but my experience with medical billers is very sucky, too.
 

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Nope, that won't work, at least it hasn't worked for us, we are sending $80 to two different accounts monthly = $160/month OUCH! and, still, they say that is not enough to keep us out of collections. I say it's all we can squeeze since there are 5 various billers, they say they do not care. I tell them f I'd send $150 to everyone like each of them are asking, we will go bankrupt. These two highest ones are still getting $80 each, one already sent us to collections after 4 months. The other is threatening now it's been six months. I hate them and their ideas - I am PAYING! That's more than they can say for most, I bet.

Amanda911 - we are experiencing similar things, sorry for your troubles. I wish I had some good advice but my experience with medical billers is very sucky, too.
Sorry to hear, some hospitals must be more hard-nosed than others. I have not had any go to collections using this method. :(
 

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Sorry to hear, some hospitals must be more hard-nosed than others. I have not had any go to collections using this method. :(

The clinic and hospital we used ( notice I say used to go to as we are switching because of this crud) now demands payment after 30 days or else. They used to be one that let one make payments with no ?'s asked. They merged with Mayo now and it is hard nosed.

In March my part of the bills was $1100 for my issue. I sent half figuring I'd pay the rest the next month. I got a harassing phone call and letter. I paid it off.

In July my bill after ins for ds's broken arm visits and dh's mishap was $432. I hadnt even received the paper bill yet but this was demanded as we checked in along with the co pay. I refused as I hadnt even seen the paper bill yet. I received the bill and paid it.

I didnt get a bill in Aug as Ins was pending. Last week I got a bill on Tues for $334. On Wed I got a call demanding payment by CC over the phone. I politely told the guy off explaining the bill hadnt even been in my hand 24 hours. A client at work said she got her bill Tues and got the call Tues demanding CC payment. She also refused.

Gee, I guess you can't hold the paper bill for 24 hours without getting a call! We are switching as I found it super insulting. They have never had to chase us for a bill.


To the OP I would pay what you can pay and that is it. Tell them you are thinking you may be forced to file bankruptcy.They may be willing to deal. It is more important you have shelter, food and other needs. I know it is very hard not to let it stress you out. hang in there.
 

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I would not take out a home equity loan to pay off your medical bills. It will leave you vulnerable and you might end up losing your house. Not paying your medical bills is bad, but not leave-you-homeless kind of bad. I guess it will all depend on how your state handles mortgages and medical bills, but I think that keeping that debt where it is is almost always going to be safer.
 

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best wishes to you and your family. hope dh's surgery and testing goes well.

wish i could help....just want to give some support.
 

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Crazy Question: Can you look for a similar job with the same pay but better benefits? On paper your problem is the amount of medical insurance you receive for your medical needs. Can you upgrade or go with a different insurance?
 

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I work for a non-profit hospital. Things may be different in a for- profit facility. I am the billing office manager & the one who sends people to collection. At our hospital, I never send someone to collection if they are paying. The folks at the call center will continue to ask for a higher payment, that is their job.
I know how expensive healthcare is and that employers are shifting more & more costs to the patient. Knowing that, I (we) have compassion for our patients and we will work things out. It is astounding how many patients never respond to the statements and phone calls. I think that makes some folks in the financial end of the healthcare industry lose their compassion.

This is what I suggest:
1) Contact the facility & ask them if they have a sliding scale Financial Aid policy (you may find it on their website) All non profits in our state are required to have a policy- it may be called charity - You may qualify for some kind of reduction. Our small hospital gives a 25% discount to folks with income 250% over the federal poverty guidelines (larger discounts with lower income). Larger hospitals can go even higher. Also there may be a clause for hardship in their policy.

2) Either call, or write a letter asking for help. Be nice, tell them you want to pay, but are overwhelmed at the moment. Ask for a reduced payment plan. Tell them if you are appying for financial aid.

3) If you get stonewalled, don't get frustrated, nicely ask for the supervisor, tell them if they have been helpful or considerate. Let the supervisor know that you have always paid in the past, but bills are mounting too quickly to be able to manage. Let them know if you have a windfall coming, such as tax refund that you will be willing to put toward the debt. Setting expectations will be helpful too, such as: if I can pay $25.00 per month for 6 months, I can increase my payment to $75.00 then.

Hospitals do need to collect the balances due, but I believe taking care of our patients extends to helping people work through their financial crisis that was created by their health crisis.
 

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I do agree with you Winkie about filling out the financial papers. The thing I found was that they want to know every dime you are bringing in and then they only want to know how much your mortgage is and what year your cars are and their payment; soooo I attached a letter explaining it all and my bill was taken care of. Before I filled out the financial papers they were ridiculous; I was paying on a bill that I made financial arrangements on and then they threatened to send me to collections on a newer $10 charge even though when I got the bill in the mail I called them and told them my dh was going back to work soon and I would probably be able to pay it in a month. I was sending money every month and that is why I finally filled out the financial papers; there was no dealing with them; otherwise. I really didn't understand why they did that when there are other people paying nothing.
 

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Sorry you had a bad experience craftypam. I do know that our hospital would rather give financial aid than have an account go to bad debt.

For some reason the folks that work in healthcare finance are hated! My staff gets yelled at everyday! When I listen to the recordings, it's really sad. We will do all we can to help, but it would be very nice if we were greeted nicely with a rational request. The patients who call & say "will you help me?" , or "I think there's a problem" are a joy to work with. Most callers start out yelling and name calling. Do these people go to the grocery & yell at the cashiers?
 

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I have a hospital bill from 2008 that I am paying $20 a month on. It was $1500 to start, but they accept the $20 and don't charge interest. Maybe just send the hospital(not a dr.) a smaller amount than they say they will accept and see what happens. I would think a hospital would be more likely to work with you.
 
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