Emergencies hit at the most unexpected of times. On top of trying to recover and heal, there is the extra strain of having to pay back hundreds, thousands, or even more money depending on the situation.
But with some careful planning and taking extra steps to keep costs low, you can minimize the damage a medical emergency can have on your finances.
Listen to your Doctors
If you are in a medical emergency, your first priority should always be your health. If your doctor and medical professionals make a recommendation, take it seriously. Don’t turn down something that could save your life or test for something important just because of the cost. It’s better to be safe when it comes to your health.
If a costly procedure is recommended, do get a second opinion. Often, there are different paths to fixing a problem with different risks and expenses.
Understand Your Health Insurance
Health insurance is a titan to understand. It’s not taught in schools, can seem counter-productive at times, and sometimes decisions seem to be made at random. But, if you have a medical emergency, it can help stifle the expenses.
When it comes to an emergency, a huge factor is seeing doctors and hospitals that are “in-network.” If you have the options, be sure to try and get doctors and a hospital that are both in your health insurance network, meaning they will cover more of the costs.
You also should know how much your deductible, out-of-pocket limit and what is and isn’t covered by insurance. That way, when the bills start to roll in and your insurance starts sending statements, you’ll know how much you're responsible for.
Save Up Enough Money to Cover Your Deductible
For minor emergencies and healthcare costs, reaching your deductible can feel like a big pain. Before your insurance kicks in and starts paying, you have to pay a certain amount. You should know how much your insurance’s deductible is and have that much saved up. That way, you can easily pay that much before insurance starts to help.
Pioneer offers savings accounts designed specifically to help with medical expenses. One is a Health Savings Account that lets you pay for medical expenses using a debit card connected to the account. The other is the Idaho Medical Savings Account, which allows you to save money while also lowering the amount of Idaho Income tax you pay.
Look Over Your Bills and Contest Mistakes
Medical bills have mistakes more often than not. Around 80% of all medical bills have mistakes that can cost you extra money.
If possible, have you or a loved one keep track of all of the services you receive. That includes medicine, procedures, doctor visits, and more. This list can help make sense when you start receiving bills.
Common mistakes on medical bills are:
- Charged multiple times for the same service
- Charges belonging to another patient
- Coding for in-patient versus out-patient services
- Charging for services not received
Request an itemized bill, meaning you get a list of everything they are charging you for, which you can then compare to the list you’ve compiled.
Settle or Get Debt Forgiveness
Most medical providers are willing to work with an honest person to try and pay off their medical debt. When the bills start to come in, be in contact with your medical provider’s billing department. If you need assistance, they will likely work with you to find a workable repayment plan.
If you are unable to pay what is due, especially because of other difficulties, the provider might be willing to settle on their debt or forgive parts of it.
If you need assistance with this, Pioneer members get free access to financial counseling through GreenPath. Their trained counselors can help you come up with a plan to settle or pursue debt forgiveness.
Consolidate Debt to a Personal Loan
Depending on your situation, you might have to pay several medical providers all at once. Add on to this each charging an interest rate and you could quickly find yourself in trouble.
If you find yourself paying too many people, consider consolidating your debts into a single personal loan. This can take paying too much every month to different people to bring the debt down to a reasonable level for a single payment. Pioneer offers Signature loans to members that can be used to consolidate medical debts into a single monthly payment.
Learn More about Signature Loans