As you may know, the Affordable Care Act is cracking down on the way tax exempt or nonprofit hospitals can collect from their patients. One of the new rules indicates that these entities will be required to tell all of their patients about available charity and financial assistance. Reporters in the healthcare field often point out that to date, even non-profit hospitals have not always treated patients fairly by telling them what they qualify for when they show up to receive healthcare services. As a result, many American families are mired in healthcare debt.
Reports of the new laws also offer some of the most common advice for you to protect yourself from unfair or excessive medical debt.
Always Talk to Providers
One of the critical steps to take is to always ask up front about available charity and financial assistance programs – regardless of the facility’s tax exempt status. It’s a great idea to ask about health care costs, and detail payment options, before you sign up for any given course of treatment. But beyond this, dialogue with the provider is also a key to keeping medical bills from showing up on credit reports. It’s true that even with the best back channel dialogue, some hospital administrators will still send bills to collections, but having an open communication with the provider will prevent this in the majority of cases where reasonable financial offices simply ask you to keep in touch about your debt and pay to the best of your ability.
Make Sure You Are Covered and Know the Extent of Your Coverage
Essentially, the Affordable Care Act is seen as a positive-negative to a portion of consumers, but for the vast majority of citizens, who want healthcare coverage to protect themselves from debt, the new law is a good thing, and not a burden. The only downside is that those who do not have healthcare coverage must look for a policy in order to prevent penalties and additional taxes. However, others may choose to forego coverage and pay their healthcare costs out-of-pocket despite penalties.
When comparing your options, be sure to also make use of the following provisions that are included in the law:
a disclaimer stating that the cost of the healthcare policy must not exceed 8% of family income
a rule that those 26 and under may stay on a family health insurance plan
rules preventing health insurance companies from dropping patients due to pre-existing conditions
state health-care exchanges that will provide access to more affordable policies
Look for the above aspects and more to be implemented in your state of residence. Take advantage of these new provisions to get the healthcare coverage you need to avoid high amounts of medical debt in the future. By being proactive about your health care, health insurance status, and financial health, you could save thousands of dollars without sacrificing quality of care.