If you have no health insurance, medical expenses can devastate you and your family. Here are some tips to help you get the care you need and handle the bills.
44 million Americans are without health insurance.
Routine health care visits are a major financial burden when you don't have any coverage. A simple medical problem will quickly turn into an expensive trip to the emergency room.
Over half of the annual visits to the emergency room are avoidable. Sprains, flu symptoms, and superficial cuts are all examples of preventable visits to the ER.
Unfortunately, going to the hospital seems like the only option when you're uninsured. Federal law requires all hospital ERs to provide care to every patient, even if they can't pay.
Yet, there are a few major problems with turning a local hospital into your main health care provider. Hospital doctors are more expensive than regular doctors and emergency rooms are stressful.
Read on to learn our 6 insightful tips to help you get quality care when you have no health insurance.
1. Hospital Visit with No Health Insurance
First, it's important you understand the truth about an emergency trip to the hospital.
You already know the average hospital bill without insurance is high. However, a common misconception people have is that hospitals will waive the bill if you have no health insurance.
The truth is even if you can't pay, the ER won't have any problem charging you. Prepare to owe the hospital anywhere from $150 to $80,000 or more when you're paying out of pocket.
Hospitals aren't only expensive, they are also often overwhelmed and understaffed. Getting treatment at your local hospital isn't the same as a personal physician.
There's a peace of mind that comes from the relationship you build with your physician. They learn all about your medical history and can offer personalized treatment plans.
Next, we'll explore how to finance and afford care from local physicians.
2. Get a Loan
If you have retirement savings you could use it to finance your medical expenses. In certain cases, you can borrow from your 401K or 403b. The money you borrow will go against the funds you've already saved.
Every plan is different but usually, they allow penalty-free loans for healthcare bills. You can also borrow with a reputable financial agency. Obtaining a loan might seem scary if you have poor credit or none at all.
The good news is there are agencies out there who offer no credit check financing. Within minutes you can have the funds you need to finance your medical expenses.
Always review the loan agreement conditions. Health and money are emotional topics and you might feel tempted to jump at the first possible solution. Instead, take your time reviewing different loan offers to find the best deal.
3. Call a Local Physician for Payment Plans
Ready for a big money saving secret?
Many doctor offices have an option to make payment plans. However, they won't freely offer this information to the public. You'll have to do some homework to uncover what offices have payment options.
Call physicians in your area to find out if they work with uninsured people. Sometimes a doctor's office will be willing to charge you a reduced rate if you don't have any insurance. Other times a doctor's office will offer you a reduced rate if you pay in advance.
4. Surgery Without Insurance
Before you pay ahead for a surgery, see if you can reduce the price altogether. Start by figuring out what location the surgery will cost the least at. Next, prepare yourself mentally to enter into negotiations.
Here are a few of the people to include in your negotiations:
- Surgery center
- Anesthesia provider
- Billing department
The billing department is a great place to start your calls. Usually, an employee in billing will have the best inside information. On your call, you can explain that you'll be paying for the procedure out of pocket.
Ask if you can receive the same discounted rate they offer insurance companies. You have to be calm and pleasant to make any headway with medical providers. Everyday people scream and yell at medical providers over money.
Make yourself stand apart by maintaining your composure. Think of yourself as a lawyer entering into negotiations. Don't take any rejection as a personal offense.
Remember, just because one provider rejects you doesn't mean the next will do the same. Be persistent and don't give up. Eventually, you'll receive some type of bill reduction.
Also, find out if a surgery center will charge less than your local hospital will. Usually, a surgery center can be a more cost-effective way to go.
5. Save on Medication Costs
Finding a physician you can afford out of pocket is only the start.
Anytime your doctor prescribes you a prescription you should ask for free samples. Usually, your doctors' office will have a large supply of free samples available to give to patients.
Another way to save on medical expenses is by using the generic brand. Generic prescription drugs cost less money and work the same as the name brand prescriptions.
You can also find out if you qualify for a prescription assistance program. Drug companies created assistance programs because they understand many people are without insurance.
The assistance programs will give you access to the same medicine but at a discounted price. Finally, when it comes to medications, take the time to shop around.
Different pharmacies will charge different prices for the same prescription. Find out what pharmacy offers the lowest price to fill the prescription you need.
Free Medical Directory
Now you're ready to start calling doctors to find out what ones offer payment plans or discounted rates. For those with no health insurance, Find A Top Doc, is the perfect place to start your search.
Our user-friendly directory helps customize your search by the doctor's specialty and location. Also, if you do have insurance you can find out what doctors are in your network.
You won't have to pay a dime for any of the information on our website. Take a moment to visit our medical library for helpful information about diseases, drugs, and medical procedures.
You can also use our medical library to learn about different symptoms and the risks they represent.
After you find your doctor you can inspire others with your story. Please take a moment to share your Health Journey with our online community. You never know how your story could provide hope for someone else.