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Health Tips

Be Your Own Health Care Advocate in 5 Simple Steps

The American Journal of Medicine reports that 60 percent of bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical bills accrued by middle class, well-educated homeowners. With the cost of health care continuing to rise, understanding how to be your own health care advocate is essential in order to survive in today’s economy.
1. Understand what your insurance does and does not cover
Utilize the help of an expert. Health insurance brokers know and understand the fine print of health insurance plans. With their expertise, you can be confident in knowing what your premium covers and what goes towards your deductible.
2. Discuss potential costs before proceeding
If a doctor suggests a procedure, test, or surgery, ask for the total cost before scheduling it. Speak with someone in the billing office to get an itemized bill with all costs, and then go over the list with your insurance carrier so you know exactly what you’ll be required to pay.
3. Document everything
Whenever you speak with anyone-insurer, doctor, etc.-regarding your health care needs, make sure to document the date of contact, date of service, name and phone number of the person contacted. Also notate the results of the conversations and any necessary follow up. Keep a copy of all bills, explanations of benefits and services together in one place. Finally, keep records of all your non-reimbursable medical expenses, including car mileage, parking fees, telephone bills and lodging. These costs may be covered through Medicare or be used as an itemized deduction when you file your income tax return.
4. Question doctor recommendations
Respectfully inquiring why a doctor recommends one specific drug or treatment over another can provide information concerning both your health care needs and potential health care costs. On occasion, an alternative treatment or generic drug can be utilized to the same benefit at a lower cost.
5. Check local pricing resources and negotiate before procedures, if in a non-emergency situation
The Healthcare Blue Book allows you to determine fair pricing for procedures in your area. If a non-emergency situation requires extensive care that may not be fully covered under your current health insurance plan, negotiate with doctors and hospitals for the best price before scheduling the procedure in question.
In the current state of our nation, being proactive about our health care is becoming a requirement, rather than an option, as we attempt to stave off increasing medical bankruptcies. Be your own health care advocate; it’s good for your health, and it just might save you some money.…