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Fighting higher medical bills

Health care expenses and high medical bills may cause insurmountable debt for Wisconsin patients and their families. Twenty six percent of respondents in a national survey conducted by the New York Times and Kaiser Family Foundation said that they or someone in their home had trouble paying these bills in 2015. However, medical billing experts provide some suggestions on lowering medical expenses.

First, consumers should understand their insurance policies before they become sick or injured. This knowledge will allow consumers to demand the full extent of their coverage. Coverage and health insurance contributions, specified in paychecks, should also be periodically reviewed.

When insurance does not cover all expenses, patients should prepare to deduct payments from their monthly budget or savings account. A flexible spending account that also has tax advantages may be used to pay off bills.

When receiving treatment, patients should ask questions and get as many details as possible. Consumers should research and shop around on all aspects of medical care, such as doctor visits, lab work, therapy, tests and procedures and non-emergency procedures.

Doctors should also provide written fee estimates. Because insurers may not pay for uncovered procedures, patients should get pre-approval for tests and procedures.

Savings may also come from close review of medical bills. At least 80 percent of bills have errors and overcharges. Patients can use the internet to find reasonable and customary charges for the procedure codes on their bills.

Even when bills are accurate and reasonable, patients may be unable to afford them. When this occurs, health care providers may be willing to agree to a monthly payment plan because they incur disadvantages with patient bankruptcy or referral to a debt collection agency.

But, consumers may also need legal assistance to assure that health care providers and debt collection agencies comply with the law and do not violate their rights. An attorney may also help patients with options that allow them to have a fresh financial start when they face unmanageable debt.

Source:, "5 ways to avoid a ridiculously high medical bill," Christine DiGangi, Feb. 14, 2017

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