As the sole developed country with a purely profit-driven healthcare system, the U.S. is not a great place to suffer a medical emergency or be stricken with a condition that requires continuous treatment. Because our system often places profits before people, millions of Americans have suffered tremendous financial hardship simply for seeking medical treatment. While navigating such a healthcare system can be difficult for underinsured and uninsured individuals, saving money is entirely possible – provided, of course, you have the proper tips on hand.
Apply for Medicaid
Although Medicaid qualifications tend to vary from state to state, there’s a chance that you qualify for it but have never been made aware of this fact. So, if you’re unclear on whether you meet your state’s Medicaid criteria, go online and review the qualifications. If you believe that you qualify, submit a Medicaid application to the appropriate government office. In many states, applications can be submitted online, so you needn’t worry about the long wait times associated with snail mail. Of course, depending on the size of your state and the number of Medicaid applicants, you may wind up waiting several weeks for a response.
Because of the unfortunate stigma attached to government programs like Medicaid, many people are shamed into not signing up for them, even if they qualify. Since Medicaid recipients are oftentimes characterized as “takers” by ignorant and poorly-informed individuals, people who stand to benefit from the program are too afraid to apply. So, if the aforementioned stigma has prevented you from applying for Medicaid, don’t let it do so any longer. There is absolutely no shame in receiving help from a federal program that’s in place to provide assistance to individuals who need it.
Peruse the Healthcare Marketplace
The Healthcare Marketplace, which can be found at Healthcare.gov, is a fantastic tool for finding the best possible insurance plans. After providing some basic information, you’ll be greeted with a list of plans that meet your needs and are priced to accommodate your income level. The Healthcare Marketplace is a great option for lower-income individuals who make slightly too much money to qualify for Medicaid in their respective states. If you’re dissatisfied with your current plan – or lack a plan altogether – don’t hesitate to pay a visit to Healthcare.gov.
Negotiate with Providers
Most medical bills aren’t as set in stone as many of us believe. In fact, a large number of healthcare providers are perfectly willing to negotiate with patients who are unable to comfortably pay their bills. You can start by informing your provider that you’re uninsured or underinsured. In some cases, this will result in an immediate reduction in your bill. Additionally, upon being asked to fully explain and justify certain costs, some providers will simply waive them altogether. This is why it pays to go over every medical bill you receive with a fine-toothed comb and make note of any costs that seem confusing, out of place or unjustifiably expensive.
Sign up for Financial Aid Programs
Unbeknownst to many healthcare seekers, a sizable number of hospitals offer convenient financial aid programs to lower-income patients. The reason many of these programs are largely unknown is because hospitals don’t tend to advertise them. Instead, the onus is on patients to get in touch with the financial aid and/or billing department and make the appropriate inquiries. The exact details vary from provider to provider, but certain programs essentially provide qualified applicants with free healthcare or dramatically reduced bills. So, the next time you visit a hospital, clinic or outpatient imaging center, make a point of asking about any financial aid programs they offer.
To call U.S. healthcare costs out of control would be an understatement. In the world’s richest country, millions of people are forced to endure financial hardship facilitated by exorbitantly high medical bills. Although the situation is certainly depressing, things aren’t entirely hopeless. Provided you have the proper tips at your disposal, getting the treatment you need for a price you’re comfortably able to pay shouldn’t prove terribly difficult. Uninsured and underinsured individuals looking for effective ways to reduce healthcare costs can benefit from the measures discussed above.