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Getting sick is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone. You may try to avoid it, but hey, life happens. Worse still, you don’t have superpowers to remain indestructible, no one does.
Sometimes, over-the-counter medicine won’t do the trick. You have to go to the hospital. The thought of facing the doctor and getting admitted is not so pleasant at all. Some people don’t fancy the idea of getting a needle stuck into them.
If you’ve got a doctor friend, well, you’re in luck. You may not have to go to the hospital. If you’re not so lucky, the only option is to seek treatment at a hospital.
The price of the consultation is insane, not to mention food, medicine, and a bed to sleep if they’ll admit you.
Although most of us would love to stay home and play doctor, let’s face the facts. At one point or another in life, you have to go to the doctor. Whether it’s because of a severe injury or a cough that won’t go away, it’s impossible to stay away from the hospital.
With that out of the way, how can you visit the doctor and lower the bill you have to pay? Is it even possible? Absolutely. Here are practical ways you can cut the costs of a hospital stay:
1. Consult Your Insurance Company
Here’s where cover comes in handy. Most people don’t consider their health insurance or rarely use it.
A drawback of this is you end up paying more than what you should have paid. If used correctly, health insurance can be of so much use to you. Here are some of the perks of having insurance:
You’re at Peace
No matter what sickness comes your way, you’re assured of treatment at an impressively low price. You don’t have to wait until it gets worse. Knowing what’s going on allows you to relax.
You Can Prevent Illnesses
Having insurance enables you to get checked out before things get worse. You don’t have to wait until you’re sick. Frequent sessions with the doctor allow you to be at your best in terms of health.
You Waste Very Little Time
If you’re sick, a trip to the doctor is fast. You receive treatment, rest for a day or two and get back to work or school.
Once you’ve visited the doctor and they give an estimate of how much they’ll expect you to pay, give your company a call.
Find out if it covers the care you’ll receive at the hospital. Also, make it a point to know if the doctor giving you treatment is in your insurance network.
If the hospital you’ve visited isn’t covered under your company, do some research to find those that do. Or, ask your doctor for facilities and providers that your insurance covers.
Important bit: make sure your company covers both your doctor and the hospital. If the doctor isn’t covered, but the hospital is, they may charge you for the services they offer.
2. Practise Thriftiness
Even if you’re covered, being reckless while in the hospital will surely cost you. The insurance will only cover the cost of your medical charges.
A stay at a hospital is expensive, no matter what kind it is. Some hospitals look for ways of increasing your bill so you should always be on the look-out.
If you’re in a facility that offers you five-star treatment, avoid using all that they provide you. You’re not being rude but it’s a great way to safeguard your cash because after all, it isn’t free.
Being thrifty isn’t something that you have to learn. Simply, get rid of stuff you don’t use. Use items sparingly to avoid regular trips to the store.
You can make it your lifestyle. From the time you get into the hospital, looking around it is a great move. This helps you know what kind of facility you’re dealing with.
Before going to the hospital, ensure that you’re well enough to take care of yourself. If not, ask a friend or relative to accompany you. They can keep an eye on stuff while you rest.
Here are some tips on being frugal while you’re admitted:
- If you have your own prescription medicine, use them in hospital.
- Bring your toiletries from home and use them for the time of your stay.
- Ask to be in a room with other patients, not your own.
- Steer clear of out-of-network charges.
- Be aware of all your visitors.
- Ask the doctor about the nature of your stay. Will you be on observation status or will they admit you?
3. Don’t Let the Doctor Do All the Work
Doctors know what they’re doing. Most of them, anyway. That’s why they’re the ones treating you! But, don’t give them all the power. Remember, the body they’re treating belongs to you. Plus, you’re paying for their services.
You may not know it, but it’s your right to know what’s going on. You don’t have to be a medical wiz. Start from simple areas, like asking them to involve you in the whole process of treating you.
Then, request them to give you an estimate of the cost of your procedure. If you don’t have medical insurance, this can help you plan on how to get the cash.
If your doctor is a grouch or makes you feel uncomfortable, they don’t have to treat you. There are plenty of other facilities that you can visit. It might take some time to find another hospital, but it’s worth the effort.
You could also ask them questions as they carry out tests on you. It might sound annoying, but being in the know is important.
Being curious can also help you to spot areas that you can save some cash. After obtaining treatment details from them, take a step forward and carry out some research to know how much other facilities charge for that same treatment.
Since you’re in the hospital, it would be best to ask your friends or family to ask around for you. Don’t be dramatic when you realize there’s a problem. Instead, ask your doctor to explain to you. Often, such cases are one big misunderstanding.
4. Look Around for Other Facilities
If you’re the type of person who judges a hospital based on its appearance, now would be the time to change your mindset.
The goal should be to save money. Even if it means going to a smaller hospital with more affordable services.
You’ll benefit if you’re covered since the company will do the work for you. They’ll provide you with a list of in-network facilities and providers.
It’s great to put your trust in the company, but have you considered that there could be some hospitals they’ve left out? That’s why you should do your research.
If you’re not, take it upon yourself to visit every facility close to where you stay. If this is a huge task for you, request your loved ones to help you out.
The more feedback you’ll get, the higher your chances of finding a more affordable hospital.
Another cost-efficient method is having X-rays and other lab-related treatments in other facilities. Typically, you’ll part with more money if they offer these services to you in the hospital.
Before going ahead to do it, have as many sessions with the doctor as you can. Ask them to explain to you the imaging and diagnostic details until you understand fully.
When you’ve found a hospital that works for you, don’t sit back and relax just yet. Make it a point to study their policies carefully. This helps you know how much you’re expected to pay.
It’s also important to know the check in and check out times of the hospital. This way, you can keep a record of the number of days you stay there and, if possible, shorten your stay.
5. Go Through the Final Bill Carefully
Once you’ve received treatment and have received the bill, don’t be in a hurry to pay up. Go through the details and try identifying a billing error.
Ensure that they’ve itemized the bill. If it isn’t, request your service provider to get you one that is itemized. These types of bills are easier to study because they provide a list of the services offered as well as their cost.
This makes it easier to spot mistakes. For the record, many hospitals make mistakes when it comes to billing patients. Whether it’s a deliberate attempt to get more money or it’s a genuine error, it’s really hard to tell.
Most hospitals are so technologically advanced that they write their bills in code. Don’t let this scare you. Look up these codes online.
Use the information you got from your research to make sure the prices are in line with the treatment.
Most times, you’re sure to come across plenty of mistakes when you study your bill. An example is included a medical fee for medicine you didn’t buy. Or, charges for services you didn’t receive.
Once you’ve come across an error or two, let the billing department know about them. Request them to audit the bill.
They won’t change anything if you don’t request an audit. Don’t assume that they’ll rectify it on their own. They’re very busy, and those types of errors go by without them noticing.
It wouldn’t hurt to go through the bill again after the auditing to make sure that they’ve made the necessary corrections.
6. Keep a Record of Your Stay
Try not to get too comfortable in the hospital. You’ve gone there to recover, yes, but try as much as you can to minimize costs. A great way to do this is keeping a record. Whether it’s in your diary, a notebook or on your phone, ensure that you record the time you are in the hospital.
It would help to start from the time you walked into the hospital. After you’ve received confirmation that they’ll admit you, start keeping the record. If you can’t do this, ask your family member or friend to help you out.
Be sure not to record everything that goes on. It wouldn’t make sense to record how many times you shower in a day. Pick the most crucial stuff and go with them. A great place to start would be recording the length of time you’re with your doctor.
Most facilities charge for their services per minute, meaning the longer you stay, the more you’ll pay. You can also take note of the visitors you receive.
Recording the tests and procedures you’re supposed to go through is essential too. Most times, a doctor or any other specialist cancels a particular procedure. But, it’s still included in your final bill.
A detailed record can be of help when going through your final bill. Along with the details from the billing department, you can include yours to be extra sure. It may sound like a lot of hard work, but it pays much more in the end.
7. Leave as Soon as You Can
Just because the doctor said you’ll leave after a week, it doesn’t mean that you stay comfy and wait for that week to end. It’ll surprise you that they only want some extra cash — work toward shortening that time frame.
If you’re admitted because of a leg injury, try exercising the leg until you can walk again. Even if it means regularly walking around the hospital.
Ask a nurse to help you out. If you’re feeling strong, you can do it on your own. Be sure not to put pressure on yourself as this can make things worse. Seek the doctor’s permission first. If they give you the go ahead, go for it.
There are plenty of reasons why you should strive to make an early exit. First of all, you have no control of yourself as a person. Doctors and other specialists might wake you up at odd hours of the night to take your medicine. They may also want to measure your blood pressure et cetera.
Second, the place is just so depressing. From the unpleasant smell to the tasteless food, it’s somewhere you wouldn’t want to stick around in for long. Not to mention the noise and disturbance from other patients and their loved ones.
Third, the risk of you contracting harmful diseases from your fellow patients is high. Granted, not everyone is health-conscious and some patients are bound to be sicker than you.
Extending your stay might lead to you contracting these diseases and this means that they’ll admit you for longer than you expected.
You could ask your doctor to allow you to go home and recuperate if your condition improves. You don’t have to have healed completely.
8. Try Negotiating the Bill
You may have tried everything in your power to lower costs, but still, the final price comes as a surprise to you. It could be too costly for you to pay. Don’t panic.
There’s always a way to take care of that. The best one is negotiation. When they present the bill to you, you have to pay for it. Period.
But, it doesn’t have to be final. Give your negotiation skills a shot, and you might get a plan that works for you.
You could try offering to clear your whole bill with cash. If you pay the moment you receive service, the hospital could give you a discount as a sign of appreciation. Cash payment is more preferred to paying in installments.
Or, how about asking for a payment plan? The big deal should be that you get the amount paid. Come up with a plan that suits you and work toward clearing your bill before or on the deadline. Luckily, hospitals don’t charge interest on high bills.
A better and more common choice is asking your friends and relatives for help. Their contributions may not be enough, but when you add to it, it’s sure to be sufficient.
Charity care is another choice you could consider. Although it’s not easily given, it could be available in the facility you’re in.
They could give it to you for free or take you through a process before accepting to provide you with it. Either way, it’s better than nothing at all. Also, as much as possible, avoid loans. They could add to your financial woes.
9. Ask Why Every Test Performed on You Is Important
Most of the tests done in hospitals are of little or no significance. The bad news is, they’ll charge you for each one of them.
If you visit a hospital with many patients and few doctors, take a step. Request the doctor to take their time when attending to you since factors like tight schedules might cause doctors to carry out inaccurate tests.
To avoid paying for procedures you don’t need, ask as many questions as you can. Some of the questions you should ask are:
- How long will it take before I get my test results?
- Can I work on recovery on my own?
- Are there any side effects of the test on me?
- Do I have to undergo the test now, or it can wait?
- What should I expect from the test?
- Will it affect me if I don’t undergo the test?
- What do they hope to gather from the test?
- What’s the importance of the test?
If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, don’t be too quick to undergo the test. It’s also important to know how experienced your doctor is.
Not every doctor can handle every type of condition. Each doctor has their expertise. If possible, ask for their qualifications.
They’re human like the rest of us. So, they are prone to make mistakes at some point or another during the treatment. Interacting with them helps them to understand you better.
Work on forming a good relationship with your doctor. This makes the entire question-answer process easier. The period you’ll stay at the hospital will be smoother too.
10. Get Organized
If you’ve been in and out of the hospital, you probably have tonnes of paperwork and getting them in order will be necessary for your next visit to the hospital.
You could organize them in a file or store them up on your computer. Whichever method you choose, ensure that you arrange the records by date. This makes tracing a particular document easy.
Plus, it makes it easy when you consult your insurance company. They can access your information within a short time, thus help you out becomes a breeze.
You Save on Cash
If by chance you receive several bills with charges for the same service, you can look into your files. Chances are you might find a bill similar to them that you cleared. You won’t have to pay again.
You Save on Time
Have you ever tried searching for something in a disorganized room? It’s enough to give you a migraine. Sorting everything out helps you avoid this nasty experience. You get what you need fast.
It Makes You Feel Good About Yourself
Finding what you need fast makes you appreciate yourself. You’ll be grateful that you took the time to organize your files. It’s enough to boost your self-esteem.
It Minimizes or Nullifies Injuries
It’s bad enough that you’re going to the hospital. Leaving things lying around can increase the number of times you go to the hospital. You can easily trip, slip or suffer a fracture. Maintaining neatness can save you from those unbearable trips to the doctor.
A Hospital Stay Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
The quickest way to recover is to relax. If you’ve gotten sick, it’s not the end of the world. A trip to the hospital isn’t as bad as most people put it to be.
With the pointers above, you can pay less than the actual price for treatment. Whenever you have to go to the hospital, smile, no matter how sick you may be. Have some positivity.
Aside from medication and treatment, a positive mindset is essential. It’s known to speed up the healing process too. Besides, you look even better with a smile on your face.
There’s a treatment for you at a pocket-friendly price. Give these tips a try, and you’ll be glad you did.