Everyone has occasional sky-high medical or dental bills, many of which they did not anticipate. Some may be due to a newly-diagnosed health condition or an accident. Whatever the reason, when presented with a service estimate of hundreds or thousands of dollars, the question arises as to whether the service should be performed with the expectation that the patient will finance high bills over a period of months or years.
Since Americans are expected to carry some type of health care coverage or be penalized without it, most people have a certain amount of coverage. But many insurance plans do not cover all costs, and some cover very little of the actual expenses. If you are diagnosed with a serious illness or recommended to have a dental implant to replace missing teeth, or any health service that will cost thousands of dollars, should you take out a loan or charge the fee on a credit card? Here are a few points to consider.
Get a Second Opinion
For any serious medical or dental diagnosis that requires treatment, it is often a good idea to get a second professional opinion. Sometimes the recommended treatment can be delayed or reduced, depending on the patient’s condition or symptoms, to avoid the necessity of paying the entire fee up front or at the time of service. For example, if you need to have two wisdom teeth pulled and will have to pay $1,000 out of pocket, a second opinion might point out if the teeth aren’t bothering you at the moment, you can wait a few months and save some money toward the cost before having the teeth removed, which will reduce financing costs. Always ask the medical or dental expert if lower-cost options are available that will not compromise your quality of health care.
Negotiate For A Discount
As with other types of financial transactions, medical and dental services can often be negotiated. We’re all familiar with generic brands of drugs that are cheaper than brand names. Similar savings may be available with surgery facilities and rehab programs so that you receive the same level of care by driving a few miles more each way than paying a higher price for a closer facility, for example. Many medical providers will reduce their fee to accept only what insurers provide, so patients don’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Ask your doctor or dentist about optional services to see if anything less expensive is available and just as good.
Ask About Paying It Off Over Time
Before financing a huge medical bill, ask if the provider will accept monthly payments. For example, if you are carrying a $250 balance from several office visits after a bout of pneumonia, instead of taking out a loan for $250 and paying interest until the balance is paid in full, ask if the billing office will accept monthly $25 payments instead. Chances are they will, and you won’t have to pay interest.
Research Low-Interest Credit Options
If you are in a position where you have no other option but to take out a loan for a large medical or dental fee, for example, for a child’s orthodontic braces or adult Lasik surgery that may cost several thousand dollars, shop around for low-interest or no-interest finance plans. Some medical providers will direct you to medical finance agencies that specifically make loans to cover health care expenses. However, check with your local bank or consider low-interest credit card offers to get the best rate on a long-term loan.
Medical bills don’t have to break the bank, but they should be managed prudently to cut costs. Take time to explore all available options when making your payment plan with a doctor or dentist billing office.