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How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

Last post Thu, Sep 30 2010 7:29 PM by Juneflower. 9 replies.
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  • Wed, Sep 15 2010 9:42 AM

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

    Here's the problem:

    8 months ago I had to visit the ER. I stayed there for 24 hrs. They did 2 EKGs, x-rayed my chest, did lab tests, and gave me one shot and one tablet. Now I got a bill for $18,000. My total household income is $2800/month. My morgage, car insurance/gas/utilities are almost close to that amount. I dont have any insurence. What are my options? I cannot pay that bill. Thanks.

    Any advice or ideas?

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  • Wed, Sep 15 2010 9:52 AM In reply to

    • Toni B.
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, Apr 5 2008
    • Seneca Falls NY
    • Posts 3,826

    Re: How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

    Call the hospital and ask to speak to a Hospital Social Worker. You may be asked to get some proof of income and outgoing bills. They should be able to get that bill reduced. In the meantime, you may qualify for Medicaid from the state. The social worker should be able to tell you more about that.
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  • Wed, Sep 15 2010 10:58 AM In reply to

    Re: How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

     I've been there. 

    Don't clean out the emergency fund for this bill.  Call and haggle with the patient accounts department.  Also call the hospital social worker and ask if they have a financial assistance program.  Most of the time, medical providers don't turn anything over to collections if you are making a payment.  They also don't charge interest without notifying you.  It's in your best interests to just make a payment of whatever you can afford monthly. 

    Do a little checking in your area for an immediate care clinic by a hospital.  I went to one when I had chest pain.  I was seen in 5 minutes.  They have full radiology and lab.  You also get the express admission to the hospital next door if anything needed to be dealt with immediately.  The chest xray, EKG and lab check for hormones showing the heart was in distress cost me $600 + $65 doctor bill (in 2003 before insurance). 

    Christine
  • Wed, Sep 15 2010 12:39 PM In reply to

    Re: How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

    Contact the hospital and make arrangements for payments. I do that for all of our large hospital and lab bills. usually I can suggest a monthly amount and they either accept it or counter with another amount. I have done all this online wit our medical center's website, but you may have to go in and talk to someone at your hospital.

    Michelle in Northern Michigan

    "Those who would surrender liberty for security deserve neither" - Ben Franklin

  • Thu, Sep 16 2010 9:12 PM In reply to

    Re: How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

     Pat, as Toni suggested, can you qualify for Medicaid? Or another benefit in which your counted income includes this bill?

  • Thu, Sep 16 2010 11:20 PM In reply to

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Re: How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

    seaturtle, this was not for me, but for a reader who emailed the question. She might be able to qualify for Medicaid, but I don't know how long that would take.

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  • Fri, Sep 17 2010 8:41 PM In reply to

    Re: How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

     Sorry, Pat, I was not paying full attention. I applied for SS, which gives Medicaid. Don't know if Medicaid is provided except for SSI and SSDI. I was accepted immediately ( rare now, I think), and first SSI check came 3 months later. I believe I was enrolled in Medicaid sooner, though.

    The sooner she begins, the better. If I remember rightly, one of the questions on either Medicaid or Foodstamps app. is "Do you have any outstanding medical bills?"

  • Fri, Sep 17 2010 8:59 PM In reply to

    Re: How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

    get a social worker from the hospital and get the accountant to see if you  can pay once a month I had to do that in between jobs I paid on time same day of the month by law they should not refuse your money even if you pay $1.00 it show in good faith that you are trying hard and that you are not messing around and I prefer toni b.'s advice go by that.

  • Sun, Sep 19 2010 7:04 PM In reply to

    Re: How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

    I work for a not-for-profit hospital system. We give a 75% discount to patients who don't have insurance- all they have to do is call our customer service dept to make arrangements. The finance dept will also allow patients to set up a payment plan. Just don't put off making arrangements- the sooner you set up a payment plan, the more willing they'll be to work with you.

  • Thu, Sep 30 2010 7:29 PM In reply to

    Re: How to pay an ER bill? Reader needs advice

    Call the hospital social worker and see if they have any private funds which will help with the bill.  Don't be afraid to haggle.  Check and question every charge on the bill.  Then negotiate for the absolute minimum payment and make additionals every year from tax refunds, assuming you have those.  

    Do find an emergency care clinic.  Many are open 7 days, as late as 10PM.  They will accept cash or credit cards, and you can negotiate payments if you're short.

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