Large Hospital Bills

This week I am going to talk about what to do when you get a large bill from a hospital.

Let’s start with an example from one of my clients:

The client is a college student who had to have necessary surgery.

  • Insurance paid their portion.
  • His out-of-pocket max was $9,000, so, he received a large bill from the hospital for $9,000.

Remember: he is a college student who doesn’t have a lot of money.

  • The hospital agreed to set up a payment plan for him, but they would only do it for three years.
  • This means $300 a month in payments to the hospital.

He and his mom called me.

  • I found out that they never offered him to apply for financial assistance
  • Based on his income and his situation, he will qualify for financial assistance from the hospital
  • This would likely knock that bill way down.
  • I instructed him to call them to pause the payment arrangement, and I gave him the forms to apply for financial assistance.
  • Now, based on his income, there’s a good chance this is going to be knocked down to well under $1,000.

This is something that the financial office should tell you – but they didn’t even ask about his income or anything like that.

They should be offering financial assistance to people who qualify.

So anytime you get a large hospital bill, you want to make sure of a few things:

  1. That it was paid correctly by the insurance.
  2. Keep in mind those fees are not real.
    1. You know, a hospital will include $25 for a box of Kleenex, we know that’s not what it costs
    2. Check for these things to be sure you are not overcharged.
  3. Consider if financial assistance applies to your situation. Once a person files for financial relief, the amount that they write off, they’re going to turn into the federal government under the Uncompensated Care Act and get reimbursed for a portion of that. Do not feel bad. This is in place for people who can not afford to make their payments, you should not struggle to pay medical bills.
  4. This why there’s so many laws are coming into place. As of September 1, Texas passed a law that says hospitals are required to provide an itemization
  5. Question everything.
    1. There’s a book called “Never Pay the First Bill” by Marshall Allen, it’s a great read.
  6. Get an itemization before you agree to pay anything
  7. Never ever make a payment arrangement with the hospital, at the very least, if you’re going to pay something, wait till it goes to collections, then you can talk to the collection people.
  8. Realize that letting it go to collections does not affect your credit for the first 12 months.

Again, all these strategies are things that people just don’t know they can do.

You know, other bills, yes, you pay on time. That does not apply to medical, specialty, hospital, ER, radiology, or labs. They are overcharging you and you should be mad about paying these inflated prices.

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me.

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Austin, Texas

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