Hospitals and healthcare are confusing for anyone, even those of us who live and breathe financing and insurance. But if you’re the patient, it’s even worse — how are you supposed to keep track of what’s what when insurance terms and administration forms are full of jargon? We often hear from people who are especially confused after a visit to a hospital, which tends to be an emotionally trying time anyway.

Five Things to Know Before Your Next Healthcare Visit

Here are five things to know now, before your next visit to a doctor or hospital (or both).   

  1. After a hospital visit, you will likely receive two bills. One is for the hospital services and one is for the physicians that saw you.

  2. Just because the hospital is in-network with your health insurance does not mean the physician is – and vice versa. The last thing you want to be worried about while being admitted to the ER for a serious illness or injury is “I wonder if this physician is an in-network provider?” However, it is something to think of beforehand and a quick question you should ask upon being admitted. A lot of times hospitals will contract doctors to come work for days or weeks at a time. So even though the hospital you’re going to is “in-network,” the physician can be out of the patient’s insurance network, meaning your insurance will not cover any of the cost the physician bill.

  3. Having something “covered” through your insurance does not mean you won’t be responsible to pay for it. “Covered” essentially means the health insurance will allow that charge to be billed through them. However, if you have not met your deductible, you will likely need to pay for the entire cost of the service or item. Even if you have met your deductible, you will be responsible for the co-insurance cost, which is the percent your insurance covers after meeting your deductible.

  4. You can ask for a discount. If you are fortunate enough to be able to pay an entire balance in full, you may be able to ask for a discount or a settlement. Be careful though: if you’re planning on paying with a credit card, the interest on the card could be more than the discount they are offering. If you’re able to pay with cash or debit, you could save hundreds if the hospital has this policy.

  5. You don’t have forever to file. Most insurance companies allow anywhere from 90 days to a year from the date of service to file a claim. For instance, if you went to the emergency room and did not have your insurance card on you, you do not want to wait too long to give them the information upon being discharged — or you may have to pay the entire bill!

If you can’t pay your latest hospital bill, contact us to find out about our patient financing program.

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