It is often our reality that we have no way of handling bills or expenses because they are either unfamiliar or surprising. When they come to mind, In such situations, the question commonly goes: “What’s the best way to handle this?” It may be a legitimate expense, but some unexplained or surprise charges always seem to show up on the bill. One area we find many errors in this regard is medical bills. Sure, you have insurance, and they should cover your medical cost. But what happens when the bill arrives with unexpected charges. The question then becomes, “Should I pay it?”
Where to Begin?
This may seem obvious and basic, but the principle is true, especially in these inflationary times where every penny counts. Review your medical insurance plan to see what is covered or not covered in your plan. That seems fundamental, but I suggest a deeper dive than just on the surface. For example, while you may have undergone a procedure, test or treatment, was it an in-network service? That means was the service from providers who have generally agreed to reduce reimbursement from your insurance company?
Once you have answered the in or out-of-network question, you can move on to call your insurance representative to find out why the bill was not fully covered or denied or only partially denied. Usually, in-service network provider problems are easier to resolve. The truth is that a provider must resubmit correct information to the insurance company when notified if incorrect information was originally provided. If there was a coding error in your bill or your insurance card was outdated, they might give rise to your claim being denied. You may even be billed for a service that should have been free, like COVID-19 vaccinations. What’s the takeaway here? Since in-service network problems are easier to resolve, should you be first in line to pay the bill? No! Take the steps necessary and execute due diligence before turning over that credit card payment.
If you have tried the above without success, you may want to appeal the bill before making a payment. Generally, most insurance companies will allow you to appeal the disputed claim online. But that’s not all! Perhaps you missed it, but the” No Surprise Act” took effect on January 1, 2022. This law protects against these surprise charges when medical care has been provided from out-of-network providers you did not choose. While the law focuses on surprise bills in emergency cases, it also protects non-emergency services provided by out-of-network providers at in-network hospitals and facilities. This is a big deal because many physicians who work in hospitals do not work for the hospital, bill independently, and may not participate in the same health plan coverage. This is an area in which many surprise billings occur.
Why is this a financial issue? A recent business report indicated that medical expenses are the leading cause of filing bankruptcies. Some even suggest that 60% of bankruptcies are due to medical expenses. Given that data, you want to appeal surprise medical charges. Suppose you have reservations about not paying the bill on time and its impact on your credit report. In that case, you should note that debt collectors must wait 180 days from the time a medical bill becomes delinquent before reporting it to the three major credit bureaus. Let’s talk Money Monday on the Zoom Conversation on April 25, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Sign up at: https://bit.ly/TTCM_Register
Today’s what’s up is about student loans. In case you missed it, the U.S. Department of Education announced an extension of the pause on student loan repayment, interest, and collections through August 31, 2022. This extension provides additional time for those with debt to develop a strategy for paying off their loans. Student loan payments were set to resume on May 1, 2022. And that’s what’s up! Let’s talk Money Monday fundamentals on the Zoom Conversation on April 25, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Sign up at: https://bit.ly/TTCM_Register
Ruthven R. Phillip, Esq., is a tax attorney, Stewardship and Philanthropy Ministry Assistant, and CEO of Give2Getrich, LLC. Give2Get Rich, LLC 2022. All Rights Reserved. Any distribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited.