Guest post by Kacy from Sisters Undercover
If you suffer from any chronic illness for long enough you will most likely experience a hospital stay or some hefty medical bills. If you are following along with My SIBO Journey, you will remember that I was hospitalized twice last October. It was scary feeling as if I was on the brink of death, but it was also very scary to receive eight different bills from the hospital, doctors, imaging, etc. months later.
These were not menial bills. My patient responsibility totaled $2,167.76, that was after paying $500 in co-pays. I wanted to provide an outline of the steps I took that got my total out of pocket expenses from $2,167.76 to $443.50, which is 80% off what was originally billed to me.
Here’s What I Did
First off, I have an insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act labeled as the Silver Plan. I don’t really think it should matter what type of insurance you have, but I wanted to make sure you had all of the info up front. Additionally, I had not hit my deductible for the year.
So, after sitting with the bills for a month a bit paralyzed, I got up the energy to start tackling this very large mountain in front of me.
1. I Focused on the Largest Bill First
The largest bill I had was to the hospital itself for $1,408.09. Yeah, that is a doozy! That number gave me some heart palpitations for sure. I called the number to the billing office that was provided on the bill and asked if they had any programs set up to help reduce hefty medical bills. They said that they could provide payment arrangements, but I pressed further and asked if they could offer any assistance is writing any of the amount off. They said they did have a program to help those making below the guidelines of the Federal Poverty Level. I hesitated because we make more than the poverty level, but I asked them to send me an application anyway.
The application process was very lengthy. I had to provide the last two months of bank statements, our tax return forms, the sums of any retirement funds, the value of our vehicles as well as provide information for the application form itself. It was some leg work and while compiling all of the info, I thought we probably won’t get a discount since we make more then the guidelines, but I kept pressing on.
2. I Wrote A Hand Written Letter
As I finished compiling the above information, I felt there was something extremely lacking in their application. They did not ask for us to document any debts we had. We sadly have some debt from my illnesses and some unexpected life events. I felt like I wanted to share that with them but there was no place on the form to do so. I ended up writing a hand written letter that explained all of my illnesses, our debt and then I asked for mercy. I thanked them for providing the service and I asked for any mercy they could provide on the bill. I then sent the compiled information off in a timely manner to the address they provided.
3. I Repeated The Above Process
I then called all of the other various medical groups from which I had received bills. I asked them if they had a program that could discount my bill. One of them had an interview they did with me immediately on the phone and by the information that I gave cut our bill in half (the highest discount they provide.) With some of the other groups I had to fill out information and fax it over (yes, some of them still think it is 1997.)
4. I Followed Up
I had not heard back from the hospital in a reasonable amount of time, so I decided to contact them to see if they had reviewed my case. To my utter amazement, they had reviewed my case and discounted my bill by 90%!!!!! I was flabbergasted, in awe and enormously grateful. I immediately was so glad I decided to do all that was required for the application process, even though I felt nothing would probably come from it. It never felt so good to be wrong! The hospital said they had sent a letter informing me of this but I had never received it (I ended up receiving it 2 weeks later!)
5. I Used That Letter From The Hospital
I had not heard back from several of the other medical groups. I decided to call them and share the fact that the hospital discounted my bill by 90% and guess what? They said if I faxed that letter over they would also provide the same discount! You better believe that I did that!
How I Proceeded From There
After all of my bills were negotiated down, I went from a balance of $2,167.76 to $443.50! Some of the bills were really small, like $5.27 so I just paid it, but others were a couple hundred here or there. For those bigger balances, I decided to set up payment arrangements to help spread it out. After 3 months, all of the balances were paid in full and I had saved 80% from what was originally billed to me. Can I get a Hallelujah up in here?!
If you are poor or disabled, you may have even more options to escape medical bills. Please check out:
What Happens if I Don’t Pay Debt?
Who Can Take My Social Security Check?
How to Respond to Debt Collectors
How to Get to the Doctor When You Can’t Afford to Get to the Doctor
6 thoughts on “How I Cut My Medical Bills By 80%”
This post and whole site have been the most helpful resource I have come across and I so appreciate your work!!!! The post “How to be Poor in America “ that gave me so many ideas.
There are some other things you can do- We have a CT scan and MRI place where if you pay cash up front its about 1/10th of the cost. So when I am in the first stages of my 5000 deductible instead of getting hit with $3300 for a MRI I went to one of these places and they did it for $275 cash. Then I bring it to my neurologist.
excellent tip!! thank you so much Ralph
This works, I have been doing this for 15yrs now & after 20 surgeries I have always gotten a minimum of 50% off.my bills & always attached a hand written letter fully explaining my situation. Additionally, if you pay something every month they cannot report you as delinquent to your credit report, even if it’s only $10 (as long as you have not set up a payment agreement w/that entity). It’s definitely worth the time & labor! Good Luck!
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Excellent info. Thank you so much Shelby.
I admire your persistence and fortitude. It certainly paid off!