Hospital bills, medications, transportation, specialist fees and other medical bills are just some of costs that burden one regular Australian family. With over one third Australians reporting that they have no savings in case of emergency, there is a rise in the average medical debt and inability to pay for medical services. Having medical insurance in many cases is not a guarantee that you will not get into financial difficulties when paying for treatment. One of Australia’s largest debt-collection agencies is reporting a 51 per cent rise in healthcare debts over the past year on the soaring cost of living, which is burdening especially low-income families.
What happens if I don’t pay my hospital bill?
The risk and consequences of not paying your hospital bill are serious. You may face refusal for treatment from your health professional, doctor and hospital. Partial payments and over due bills will make it difficult for you to receive therapy, medication and other treatments. Depending on how long you have left the hospital bills unpaid, the risk of having debt collectors appointed by the hospitals coming at your door is high.
Additionally, with each day that the creditors and debt collectors are contacting you, the higher your chances of receiving a bad credit score due to unfavourable past attitude towards bills and credit. This can make it difficult for you in the future to receive a loan, credit card or funding for anything including medical emergencies.
How can I reduce my hospital bill?
You can prevent piling up hospital bills by knowing the true costs of medical procedures, supplies and medications in order to know how to can bargain effectively, carefully anticipate and track all your medical expenses and by that stay in control of your bills and expenditure. Hospitals do make mistakes in calculations, and whether this is done on purpose or not, still, always look into detail on what are you being charged for. Particularly look for possible duplicated costs such as laboratory examinations or X-rays charged twice, duration of stay in the hospital and other costs that occurred, and if they are true or not. If the summary hospital bill does not contain enough details you can always ask for itemized bill on which you can see for what you are being charged.
Another thing is to never ignore your bills and creditors. The truth is, collectors will come and pay for their services sooner rather than later and eventually you will have to pay the bills. One thing that can be done if you cannot pay is to talk with the hospital and try to agree on payment on rates on a prolonged period so you can repay the debt. In such case, you need to make a careful and realistic plan in order to be able to pay as agreed. Don’t be afraid to ask for those lower rates and to work out a repayment plan — just be sure to get the agreement in writing. Most doctors and hospitals would rather accept reduced payments than have to deal with collection agencies and possibly no reimbursement at all.
And lastly, look if there are medical assistance programs available that suit your situation and needs. You can ask the hospital staff to review your medical case and see whether you qualify for financial assistance from the government, a non-governmental organization or the hospital itself. These options are undermined by patients and families, very often, however, these should be done preferably before creditors have begun collection procedures.
1) Doctors are hiring debt collectors to chase up their bills: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/doctors-are-hiring-debt-collectors-to-chase-up-their-bills/story-e6freuy9-1226077717305
2) Patients reveal why Australians can’t afford a $6 GP fee: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/patients-reveal-why-australians-cant-afford-a-6-gp-fee/story-fneuzlbd-1226843917097
3) One-third of Australian households have no savings: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/one-third-of-australian-households-have-no-savings/story-e6frea83-1226579475726?nk=de449851b3f7908dfa3411dd5c1c7625
4) When You Can’t Pay Your Bills: Ten Things to Know: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/trouble-paying-bills-debts-tips-32215.html