By Elizabeth Burnett, Care Coordinator
Medical bills can be a daunting expense. Whether it is an unexpected hospital stay or an ongoing illness, there are times when the bills can be greater than a person’s monthly income. Sometimes individuals feel they must choose between paying medical bills or paying for food or household utilities. Fortunately there are programs available to assist when faced with these circumstances. Options to consider include working with the medical provider to establish a payment plan, applying for reduced or forgiven amounts and applying for health benefits through Medicaid. The best way to apply for Medicaid assistance is online using www.MIBridges.com. Mid-Michigan Health has arranged with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to have staff available at the hospital to assist you with the process of applying for Medicaid coverage.
Most hospitals, including our local hospitals, have financial assistance programs. To receive assistance, most often you must complete an application and provide supporting documents (example: proof of income).
It’s important to understand your insurance coverage. Review your plan to understand your out-of-pocket cost-sharing for doctor appointments and hospitalizations. Compare your options each fall for the next calendar year to determine if there is another plan that provides better coverage. Prior to requesting financial assistance, it’s important to do your own due diligence.
- Confirm that the bill is accurate.
- Compare the medical bill to your insurance explanation of benefits statement.
- Do not pay the bill until you are sure Medicare and your secondary health insurance (or Medicare Advantage Plan) have paid their portion.
- Don’t be afraid to call the medical provider and ask questions.
- Don’t pay what you don’t understand. In some cases you may wish to ask the provider for an itemized bill.
- When calling a medical provider with questions, make note of the date you called and the person you spoke with.
Most importantly, don’t ignore your medical bills! Seek help and guidance from the hospital, medical provider or physician’s office.