Just when you think you’ve heard it all…. Now hospitals are “helping” their patients with finances, too.
If you don’t give that much thought, then it seems like a great idea. “We recognize you owe us more money than you can afford, Mr. Johnson. So we’re going to help you figure out how to pay for it!”
Yes, according to Stat, Financial counselors help patients navigate costly care, you, too, can sit with a hospital’s financial counselor to see how you can use your life savings, your credit cards, borrowed money – whatever it takes – to be sure the hospital gets ITs pound of your flesh (if they haven’t taken it all already.)
The truth is – in its purest form, this is a smart move for hospitals, and can be beneficial to its patients, too. The problem is, not enough patients will question their bills to begin with, and therein lies the rub.
Look at it another way: THE house you have always wanted to live in, that you have admired for decades, the one you’ve always thought was home-nirvana, comes on the market. The price of that house is $1 million dollars. So you go to the bank, you take out a mortgage, and you buy that dream house. Thank heavens the bank was there to lend you the money, right? Even if you have to pay it back for the next thirty years – now your dream house is yours!
- But what if the house, in the market where you live, was only worth $500,000? You never thought to evaluate the price – vs – the benefit.
- The seller never bothered to mention that the value of the house was actually half its price.
- The banker, who makes much more money on a million dollar mortgage than on a half-million one, didn’t mention it.
- And now you are stuck with paying twice as much for the house, twice as much for the mortgage, maybe for twice as long, as you would have if you had asked those questions, and made those reviews, to begin with.
What you needed was an appraiser and a negotiator. Unfortunately, among those people who “helped” you buy your dream home, none of them would give you an honest assessment, nor would they have ever suggested a lower price, because they all stood to make more money by failing to mention your options.
And here is the biggest difference between the house-buying scenario and the hospital financial counselor scenario: in house-buying, there are other governors in place to be sure you’re not paying too much. For example, no bank will loan you twice what a home is worth. That is against the law. (Of course, if you pay cash, then you’re back to the no-one-will-stop-you scenario.)
And THAT is my objection to hospitals with financial “counselors” who will only counsel you on the price the hospital has set, and not on what is fair and right. There is no one, no law, no governor to be sure you’re only paying the “right” amount.
So – how can you take advantage of financial counselors who may have the ability to help you, without paying too much for that care? Yes, you know the answer:
Find a medical billing advocate – one who can review your medical bills, including your hospital bills, who will either agree that the bills you have are right and fair, or will figure out how much you’ve been overcharged. An advocate who will negotiate the incorrect bills for you to be sure you’re paying not a cent more than you should. An advocate who will be sure your insurance has paid its maximum to remove as much of the burden from you as possible…
Your medical billing advocate will provide peace-of-mind that you’re not being charged too much, so that when and if you decide to use one of these hospital financial counselors, you know you won’t be paying too much.
- Find a medical billing advocate to help you review and negotiate those bills.
- How Money Influences our Medical Care