It’s easy to see why virtually every American has a handful of horror stories about the U.S. health care system. Not only do we have the only for-profit health care system in the developed world, but a sizable number of Americans have also faced financial ruin due to out-of-control medical debt. Even a seemingly routine medical visit can result in surprise costs and hidden fees that bleed you dry financially. As such, it’s in the best interest of every U.S. citizen to take preventative measures against health care debt.
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Seek Out Affordable Insurance Plans
In the absence of health insurance, even the most routine medical procedure is liable to cost a small fortune. Fortunately, finding affordable insurance coverage isn’t nearly the chore it used to be, thanks largely in part to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Per the ACA, insurers are no longer allowed to discriminate against applicants with preexisting conditions. So, if you suffer from a health condition that has acted as a hindrance to coverage approval in the past, this needn’t be a concern any longer.
To find a plan that’s well-suited to your current income level and lifestyle, pay a visit to HealthCare.gov. After providing some basic personal information, you’ll be greeted with a host of plans that fall well within your budget. Furthermore, the prices attached to these plans are determined by your income level. Depending on your income level, you may even come across some free plans – or very close to free. So, if you’ve never had health insurance, there’s no time like the present to get the coverage you deserve.
Apply for Medicaid
If you’re unfamiliar, Medicaid is a state and federal public insurance program that helps cover health care costs for millions of disadvantaged Americans. Additionally, Medicaid coverage is provided free of charge, so you needn’t worry about paying monthly bills when you’re covered under it. So, if you’re unable to comfortably afford health insurance, take care to review your state’s Medicaid requirements.
On the subject of requirements, it’s worth noting that they tend to vary from state to state. For example, some states impose minimum work requirements on Medicaid recipients while others do not. To learn more about Medicaid eligibility in your neck of the woods, pay a visit to your state’s Medicaid website.
Apply for Financial Aid
Unbeknownst to many health care seekers, many hospitals and other medical facilities offer financial aid programs to disadvantaged patients. However, since most places don’t openly advertise these programs, patients are generally required to ask about them before providing pertinent information. If you’re unclear on whether your preferred hospital, doctor’s office, etc., offer such programs, simply ask your physician. Additionally, if a hospital has a financial aid department, there’s a good chance they offer programs and discounts to uninsured, underinsured, and financially strapped patients.
Of course, the criteria vary from place to place, and if you’re not proactive in checking up on your application, it may take a very long time for you to hear back. Fortunately, many of these programs provide retroactive coverage and can be applied to bills you received pre-approval.
Ask for Discounts
Many hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other medical facilities are far more willing to offer discounts than you may think. Again, the crucial step is asking. The next time you receive a medical bill, inform the relevant parties that you cannot comfortably afford it and ask that they provide you with a discount. If you’re uninsured or underinsured, many places will take a huge chunk off your bill – provided, of course, you ask. You can also ask for a prompt payment discount, which entails a large portion of the bill being forgiven in exchange for expedient payment.
You may also want to consider seeking out more affordable health care options in the future. For instance, if you wish to make a minor medical inquiry or need a Plushcare doctor’s note, look into remote physician visits.
It’s hard to deny that U.S. health care is fundamentally broken. While the Affordable Care Act was certainly a step in the right direction, millions of Americans continue to grapple with medical debt as health care costs become increasingly unmanageable. That being the case, it’s easy to see why opening one’s mailbox to find a medical bill is a source of absolute dread for countless Americans. Although there’s currently no end-all solution to medical debt, there are several steps you can take towards stopping it in its tracks and keeping personal health care costs manageable.
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