Did you know that you can save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and MONEY by being an informed patient? You may be asking yourself “how?” The healthcare system, especially medical billing and health insurance is extremely complex and confusing. However, with a little advance planning, you can reduce or eliminate endless phone calls to medical billing or health insurance representatives that are unwilling or unable to help you resolve your problem. Advance planning is also very likely to help you save money on medical expenses, as well. In a series of blog posts, we will give you many of the tools necessary to help you make informed decisions that ultimately save you money.
Be prepared for an emergency. When you need medical attention quickly, you have to make several decisions at once. Knowing which in-network Hospitals and Urgent Care Centers are closest to your home, workplace, or places you visit most often can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
EMERGENCY ROOM VS. URGENT CARE
If possible, start by assessing whether the situation could be handled effectively by an Urgent Care Center, or whether your condition is serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.You could spend a few minutes researching this as part of the planning process. If you are unsure, try calling your primary care physician for help determining which facility you should go to. An Emergency Room visit can cost as much as 10 times that of an Urgent Care Center.
BE PREPARED – PLAN AHEAD
In order to protect yourself from unnecessarily high medical bills, you should know which hospitals and which urgent care centers are in-network with your health insurance plan.
These simple steps can help you save thousands of dollars:
- Locate one or two in-network urgent care centers near your home. Be sure to note the address and hours of each. Remember, some Urgent Care Centers are staffed by MD’s—others not.
- Next, locate one or two in-network urgent care centers near your workplace;
- Locate one or two in-network hospitals closest to your home. Note the entrance to the Emergency Room.
- Finally, locate one or two in-network hospitals near your workplace.Note the entrance to the Emergency Room.
- Document the information in a way that you can access it at any time, especially in an emergency.
It’s not always possible to be fully prepared for an emergency. However, knowing which Hospitals and Urgent Care Centers are in-network with your health insurance plan literally can save you thousands of dollars.
Finally, there may be several invoices in connection with an Emergency Room or Urgent Care Center. Don’t assume that your medical bills or health insurance explanation benefits are correct. Its estimated that 85% of medical bills have erroneous charges or health insurance processing mistakes. If you are having difficulty understanding your medical bills and/or health insurance Explanation of Benefits(“EOB’s”), contact one of our Board-Certified Patient Advocates at Human Health Advocates. We review medical bills and health insurance determinations. We negotiate reductions in medical debt from hospitals and other providers. Get in touch. We can help!