Friday, June 12, 2009

How You May Easily Reduce Your Medical Debt

Dave Ramsey doesn't know everything. Perhaps he just didn't think about it when a woman called with insurmountable hospital bills. She really felt her family was going under financially because of a $5,000 baby delivery and a $5,000 medical emergency for her husband within only a few months of each other. Apparently, they did not have health insurance, because she claimed these bills were both out of pocket expenses. It didn't help that they also had $30,000 in credit card debt. But, they made about $55,000 a year, only paid $600+ a month on their house, and their cars were both paid for. Dave and I were both wondering why she didn't think they could make it. Turns out she was paying quite a bit on the medical bills each month and wasn't leaving enough for food. Not good.

Dave's advice for her, of course, was to set aside X amount of dollars for food each month and not to spend it on anything else, including medical bills. Good advice. However, he didn't mention one of the main first steps anyone without insurance or with high deductibles should do when medical bills are looming.

Write a letter to each doctor, each technician, the labs, the hospital, and any other providers who are knocking on your door for payment and ask them if they would be willing to reduce or waive their fees. Explain that you do not have insurance or have high deductibles and let them know how very much you would appreciate their consideration.

We had both insurance and a public aid spend-down when I had cancer surgery five years ago, but there were still many fees which were not covered by either one. Thankfully, several labs gave us the insurance rate, my surgeon reduced his fee, and my primary care physician waived all of her fees. Within only a few months we were able to completely pay off every cent, even when the anesthesiologist wouldn't give in AT ALL. (Thanks, a lot.)

If you are facing a mountain of medical debt, please take a minute to write notes to each of your providers. Send them with prayer and watch the Lord work.