Overwhelmed by medical bills after an accident? At C. Todd Smith Law, we’re sharing five ways Floridians can lower and manage those bills.
Most of us can’t afford to be sick or injured. Even small disruptions to our day-to-day lives can be costly. In addition, the time and attention needed to understand confusing medical insurance policies can be overwhelming.
After an injury, your only responsibility should be restoring your health, not struggling with bills. Fortunately, you have five options for reducing your out-of-pocket costs on expensive medical bills.
1. Contact Your Medical Provider
If your insurer has recently denied your claim, it can be natural to be frustrated and upset. But don’t panic. First, review the bill sent to you by your medical provider. Then review your insurance company’s Explanation of Benefits (“EOB”) form – it should indicate why the bill was reduced or denied. An EOB is a statement from your insurance company that describes what was billed and what costs are being covered by your insurance. It usually contains an explanation or a code that tells why the bill was reduced or denied. Sometimes an insurance company denies a bill because of a coding mistake, or the procedure isn’t covered by your policy. Sometimes the insurance company is disputing that a certain procedure was actually performed. It is entirely possible that a mistake was made in how the procedure was billed by your medical provider, or often, the insurance company is just improperly denying the bill without justification.
Contact your medical provider and make sure you understand what services were rendered and why they billed the codes they did. Once you understand what was billed by the medical provider, call your insurance company to correct the mistake. Double-check that your insurance company received the correct codes for the services you received.
2. File an Appeal with Your Insurance Company
Although the appeal process will depend on what type of insurance you have, most policies explain the process to appeal somewhere in your policy documents or the EOB. If you can’t locate the information in your documents, ask your insurance company how to file your appeal. Make a record of everything. Record the name, date and time of anyone you speak with, as well as the result or outcome of the call or meeting. This will often require several phone calls and it can be quite frustrating, but persistence usually helps.
3. Put in a Request for Charitable Assistance
If you have exhausted your remedies to get your insurance company to pay the bill, of if you are uninsured and can’t pay, you may ask for a reduction or waiver of the bill. Florida non-profit hospitals, for example, are required to offer certain forms of care for reduced or zero cost. It is mandated by both Federal and state laws. Charitable assistance programs offer reductions for those treatments that are considered “medically necessary”. This may include inpatient hospital stays and emergency room visits.
Hospitals can have any number of names and requirements for their charity care programs, below are links to just a few of the hospitals in the state of Florida.
UF Health – https://ufhealth.org/financial-assistance
Advent Health (Florida Hospital) – https://www.adventhealth.com/legal/financial-assistance
4. Arrange a Payment Plan for Your Medical Bills
If you are not eligible to receive charitable assistance, your medical provider or hospital may work with you on a payment solution that is right for you. Fortunately, this method is not only simple to do, but it is also quite common. This solution will allow you to make smaller, more affordable payments over a greater length of time. If you don’t take this step, you could set yourself up for additional fees for late payments, as well as annoying calls from collection agencies. Don’t just ignore the bills. Medical debt can be detrimental to your credit report if you let it build up.
5. Let our team at C. Todd Smith Law Advocate on Your Behalf
There are certain types of insurance in Florida, like Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance, that has very technical requirements that both medical providers and auto insurance companies must follow. PIP insurance pays your medical expenses and lost wages after a motor vehicle accident in Florida. Remedies for non-payment include sending a demand letter or even filing a lawsuit against your auto insurance company if they fail to pay a bill under your PIP insurance. Our team at C. Todd Smith Law has extensive experience advocating for our clients and making sure their medical bills get paid promptly. We also audit and if necessary, negotiate with our client’s medical providers to make sure our clients have been billed the correct amount, and that any available insurance (PIP or health insurance) has properly paid their bills.
You should never be denied basic medical procedures, nor should your medical care leave you in dire financial straits.