How to Budget While Considering Unexpected Healthcare Costs
This article is relevant to US readers.
Think back to your very first pay cheque – from a paper route perhaps. Did it come with instructions that how to spend it? We are still left to figure it out! No one is born with money management skills, it’s something that we have to learn.
When you have a family and are responsible for more people than yourself, it’s even more important to know how to budget properly to manage your family’s money effectively.
It’s always a good idea to ensure that you have some savings for a rainy day. Especially if someone in the house gets surprisingly ill and you need to work out what their health insurance plans are if applicable and how you’ll be able to cope with the unexpected healthcare expenses.
How to deal with unexpected healthcare costs
In this guide, we’re looking at how you can budget to be able to afford any unexpected healthcare costs:
1. Have the Money Conversation:
It is important to discuss costs and options that can lead to cost savings for your other household expenses but also to talk about the financial details with your doctor. The problem is that doctors aren’t fully trained to discuss financial matters with patients and they often feel it’s inappropriate to bring up money during a patient visit to their office.
However, the fact is that they feel reluctant to discuss costs as they think it can encourage patients to plan ahead more promptly. The more informed the patient is about the approximation, the more they likely are to be able to pay for their healthcare expenditures without any problems.
A good way to start the money conversation is by asking a few questions on the patient intake form. Ask your doctor for details of costs in advance or see a doctor that has treated you before, as you will already have an idea about what would they charge for their services. If you have any difficulty while paying medical bills, then let your doctor know as soon as possible to discuss the options.
Your goal should be to visit a doctor who brings patients into the decision-making process. You could also talk with your doctor about scheduling expensive tests later in the year when your annual deductibles are more likely to have been met.
2. Learn about doctors’ empathy:
As you know that new healthcare insurance regulations have introduced really high-deductible plans and most of the healthcare expenditures are the patient’s responsibility.
So, it’s a good idea to always save a specific portion of your monthly income that can be used in case of any healthcare emergency occurs with any of your family members.
It’s also good to find appropriate and affordable care. You can affordable care programs from the ABIM Foundation’s Choosing Wisely® initiative. It provides hundreds of cost-effective options based on medical speciality and diagnosis. This includes a wide range of healthcare programs from drugs, tests to maintenance supplies and more.
3. Comprehensive medical bills:
Always refer to the physicians who provide you with medical bills that are comprehensive for you to estimate your charges. As complex medical coding jeopardy can lead you to pay for certain hidden charges.
Certainly, doctors should also make sure that their medical billing service providers aren’t preparing bills that are erroneous or abusive (that contain hidden administrative charges). It would also impact the doctor’s reputation. So, both of the parties should also ensure the working of back-end procedures in order to get an idea of overall proficiency of the doctor’s practice.
4. Try to get a lower-coded visit:
You should schedule your visit to the doctor’s clinic in advance. Make sure to make use of offers from your doctors like lower-coded visit that takes less time during your slow periods such as mid-afternoon.
5. Discuss a Payment Plan:
If you have any healthcare emergency at your home and you can’t completely pay for the doctors’ services at once then ask your doctor if they can allow you to pay the portion of their fees now and add the balance to a tab you can pay down over time. You can pay for the left charges whenever you have that money in your pocket to pay. You can set up a credit card on file and sign an agreement with your doctor for a regular monthly charge to pay toward their debt.
6. Look for a Sliding Fee Scale
Look for the doctor’s sliding fee schedule that can give you a financial break from your healthcare expenditures in both the cases i.e. low income and self-pay patients. This kind of fee schedule provides a discount based on your financial needs.
7. Accept What They Can Offer
There may be sometimes that you may have the best intentions to pay yet you are unable to do so due to unexpected financial difficulties. Have a frank conversation with your doctor about what are you able to pay for their services prior to getting the patient the care you need.
8. Acquire Reference for Financial Assistance From Your Doctor
If you and your doctor can’t agree on a fee or your doctors has already maxed out the number of low-cost clients they can afford, you can ask them for any reference in your local community hospital or clinic. Prove them your financial needs with proper documentation for many low-cost or no-cost care offers.
You can use these tips to afford your unexpected healthcare costs and to not let your household budget become tight in case of any emergency. Moreover, physicians should also make sure that they charge their patients accurately and do not thrust extra financial burden upon their patients due to the hidden charges incurred in their administrative (medical billing service cycle). It would lead them to provide assistance to their patients even during this challenging time in the healthcare landscape.