Our health is one thing that can take a turn for the worst in the most unexpected of times. From severe chest infections, serious motor car accidents, to heart attacks and confirmed diagnosis of carcinomas, the list is endless.
This goes without saying that accompanied medical expenses such as MRI’s, Surgical Procedures or radiation, chemotherapy and let’s not forget the medications itself, can send the bills through the roof!
Do you need help paying hospitals bills or medical expenses? This article discusses some tips that you might find helpful in dealing with, firstly, that dreadful medical expense account, and furthermore, explore a way, that you can carry out to prepare yourself when it happens again.
The lesson I learned from ‘John-Q’
Did any of you watch the movie John-Q, starring Denzel Washington as the lead? Basically, the plot is centred around John-Q, taking an emergency room in a hospital hostage. The reason being, that the hospital refuses to cover the costs, for his son to have a heart transplant. If his son DOES NOT get the heart, he will die.
For those of you who have NOT watched the show, don’t worry, I won’t spoil the story for you. The main point that I would like to raise here is the line that John-Q tells his son. Man, this line sticks with me in my mind till this day. It goes something like this….
“Listen to your Mum. Tell her you love her every day. Treat girls like princesses. Be a Man of your word. If you get the chance, make a lot of Money. Everything is much easier if you have a lot of Money…“
I think that you’ll agree with me when I say, the only time that we will really feel that things are not easy, is when we are involved in the situation ourselves, and will look around in desperation trying to find that extra money to help either ourselves or a family member, out of that unforeseen “hospital” encounter.
This is what had happened to me a couple of weeks back….
My very own hospital Experience
(Before I carry on with this story, for those of you who are interested in learning about the hospital tips I mentioned, you can skip to that part, if you wish not to read this story)
Every now and again, my dad used to complain about his back being sore. We thought that it’s probably a result of his uncomfortable chair at work. So, naturally, being in the health care field, I give him some anti-inflammatories or pain killers. It provided some relief, but nothing to really shout about. Then things starting taking a more serious turn…
On a Tuesday morning (just before I was going to leave for work) the 15th July 2016, my mum called me, to tell me that my dad’s blood pressure was sky high, in the region of 210/106!Folks! When it’s readings like these, it’s serious, and calls for immediate medical attention!
So, we rushed him to the casualty department, at a Private hospital. They could not stabilize his blood pressure, so they had to admit him into the I.C.U (INTENSIVE CARE UNIT), for overnight monitoring.
Now, in my country, we have a thing called MEDICAL AID. It’s a private insurance that you pay on a monthly basis, which gets you access to PRIVATE HEALTHCARE.
Without it, in an emergency like this (unless you can cough up the cash), you would have to go to a Government Hospital. And trust me, the government hospitals here are in shambles and the service is extremely poor,if nothing at all!
Anyways, back to the story, it turned out that my dad needed to have an MRI scan done for his back. Apparently, it was the pain and its associated stress that was causing the fluctuating blood pressure.
We were told by the hospital, that the medical aid would NOT pay for the MRI, so we had to pay an amount of $535 upfront, before any scan would be taken.
The report showed a compression of lower vertebrae against the nerves within the spinal column. This is what was causing the pain.
How do you sort it out?
There where various options given to help him, with spinal surgery being one of them. Thank God that surgery was not the only solution, as it was reserved as the last option if all else failed. The doctors decided to give him a steroid injection (performed under x-ray) to bring down the inflammation and hopefully take the pain away as well.
Did we have to pay for this?
You bet we did. Another $120 Upfront!
At this point, I thought to myself, what happens if someone does not have the money? How will folks survive? We all can’t become John–Q and take the place hostage.
As a pharmacist, I have seen and heard tons of complaints against medical aids and the health care system in general.
Common complaints against the Medical Aid
- “I pay so much, yet they only cover a certain portion towards my hospital bill,”
- “It’s only JULY! and my savings from my Medical Aid has run out. I have to pay cash for my medication and still fork out for my Medical Aid premiums. Is this fair?”
- “Medical Aid says that I have to take the generics. If I want the original medication, then I would have to pay cash out of my own pocket.”
As far as I can say, these scenario’s will play on day in and day out. Coming back to the original topic of this post, There are TWO avenues we can take to deal with high flying medical bills.
- When you’re in the situation, follow the tips outlined below.
- Prepare yourself, long before the situation.
Let’s look at the first scenario. This is when you are in a jam, and faced with that Hefty Hospital Bill.
Tips to use when you need to pay hospital bills that are Outrageously High.
- Good Record keeping – keep all your bills meticulously filed and keep track of further expenses incurred. Raise any discrepancies immediately with the hospital. Watch that you DON’T get billed for the entire day, when you were discharged in the morning.
2. Negotiate Cash Payments – If you are going to take on the bill, then try pushing for a discount on the final amount.
3. Don’t Accept all the Billings by Face-Value – The hospital that my dad was in, told me that there were no funds to cover the procedures that we paid for. But, given the fact that my dad had a comprehensive hospital plan, the bill should have been settled out of this portion.
[ I am in the process of ‘investigating’ the exact reason for the payment refusal, and WILL NOT let the issue slide away, until all possibilities have been exhausted(Watch this Space!!).]
So, if needs be, challenge your insurer and question their policies.
4. Apply for Financial help – It’s never a good thing to dodge a bill, and then have the ‘debt collectors’ knock on your door in the middle of the night. Your credit score also takes a beating as a result.
Rather appeal to the billing department for arranging a suitable payment plan. In this way, you are showing your commitment towards paying the amount outstanding.
If you can reach out to family or friends, then work out a payment structure that both parties are happy with.
5. Go the ‘legal’ route– If the situation calls for, get an attorney to help you through the process.
6. Use Crowdfunding Websites– these are websites that help to raise money for certain situations. They allow you to post your story which gives visitors the chance to offer help by donations.
7.Open a Short-Term Disability Policy – This policy can help to cover you with an amount that is equivalent to your salary during your period of stay at the hospital. You can use these funds towards your medical bills.
Once you are in the flow of things and slowly getting used to paying off the medical expenses, it’s time to incorporate a future plan. A plan that will help cover you for future bills, without as much struggle or financial stress as before.
I am talking about scenario 2.
How to prepare yourself against High Medical Bills.
Saving, is certainly a great option and should be started. I often hear patients tell me,”I should have just got a hospital plan, and save money aside for the additional expenses as Medical Aid does not cover it anyway. Why should I pay DOUBLE?”
How about an option you never thought of. Perhaps it seems a little far fetched to you right now, but certainly a viable option. That of starting an ONLINE passive income business to help with emergencies like these?
Sure it will take you some time to start building, but once it’s built, it can help you to pay not just hospital bills, but any bills for that matter.
Why start an online business?
- Its cheap to start up
- Its self sustaining once built
- Offers flexibility and can be done from the comfort of your armchair
- It can be transferred to your loved ones, should anything happen to you.
Read my Review of this Awesome Training platform here,
It’s not a great thing to think about the day our health takes a turn for the worse. In fact, I am guilty of thinking that nothing can ever happen to me. This is dangerous thinking, as life can give you surprises when you least expect it.
And as JOHN -Q said, “money makes things so much easier,”
Hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful.
If there is anything on your mind, or you would like to share something, don’t hesitate to use the comments box below.I will leave you with a touching scene from John-Q, A Final Goodbye By a FATHER to his SON. (Please, please, don’t watch it, if you have not watched the movie as yet.)
STAY SAFE, BE HEALTHY AND LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST.