Medical emergencies can be scary. The bills that follow them can be even scarier. Even with insurance, you can still end up with expensive bills that you don’t know how you’re going to pay. If you don’t have insurance, the situation can be even more stressful.

Luckily, there are things you can do both before and after the bills start coming to help you manage your emergency medical bills.

Be Proactive

Putting your medical bills off is tempting, but dealing with them sooner rather than later can help save you money in the long run.

Hospitals will sometimes offer discounts if you can pay your bill in full or in part right away. If you can’t, set up a payment plan as soon as you can for a shot at more discounts and to avoid having your debt sent to a collection agency. It can be much harder to negotiate with a collection agency than with a medical facility.

You should also pay as soon as you can for any doctor’s visits following your emergency. You could even call and pay in advance for a potentially even lower rate.

Double Check Everything

Although double (or triple) checking your medical bills can be time-consuming, it can end up saving you from paying unnecessary charges.

Always ask for an itemized bill and carefully check every item. Make sure that you actually had all of the services and medications you have been charged for and watch out for double charges on a single item.

If your procedure is listed as an inpatient, you could try to get it switched to outpatient if you were only in the hospital for a few hours or just one night. Inpatient charges are associated with a higher price tag, so talk to your provider or insurance company to see if your status can be changed.

Go Generic

Generic medications are often cheaper than brand-name ones for the same drug, so ask your pharmacist or doctor for the cheapest option.

Doctors sometimes have samples of medications sent to them by pharmaceutical companies that they can offer for free to patients. You could also ask your doctor if they have any samples of your prescription that you could take with you so that you won’t have to refill as often.

Seek Financial Assistance

If you don’t feel you’ll be able to realistically pay your medical expenses by yourself, you could seek out one or more of the many financial assistance options that are available.

Many hospitals, especially non-profit ones, have programs that can help patients without insurance or without enough income pay for medical expenses. These programs often aren’t well publicized, so you may have to ask about them.

Medical loans can help give you more time to pay your bills. If you don’t have the money at the time but feel you will in the future, a loan may be the right option for you. Look for a loan with the lowest interest rate that you can find. If you’re still looking for loan options, find more from King of Kash.

Negotiate Ambitiously

A lot of people don’t know that medical bills are negotiable. You might be able to find yourself some savings by haggling with both your healthcare provider and insurance company.

One strategy is asking a provider to forgive a portion of your debt if you pay some of what you owe immediately. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious with your offers. Even if they say no at first, starting out at with a low offer on your part increases the chances of ending up with a more affordable outcome.

Shop Around

If you have to make any follow-up doctor’s office or hospital visits or fill prescriptions, shop around for the cheapest price. Different doctor’s offices, hospitals and pharmacies charge different prices. You might be surprised how much you could save.

Different facilities may also pair better with your insurance and be able to offer cheaper prices. Your insurance company may have a list of facilities it recommends.

Consider Hiring a Pro

Medical bills and debt can be a messy situation, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. A patient advocate, medical-billing advocate or attorney may be able to negotiate savings you couldn’t get on your own.

Make sure you hire one who doesn’t charge you up front. Most of these professionals will charge you a percentage, often between 20 and 30%, of what they save you, and some put a cap on their fees.

Medical bills can be a challenging situation to deal with. Make use of these tips to help make the process smoother and possibly save yourself some money.

Ethan Butler writes about personal finance for a range of blogs, whether finance related or lifestyle as he offers up tips and solutions for managing the cash flow.

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