Dealing with COVID Bills: How to Maintain Your Financial Security – Maybe

Covid Billing

As if the return of COVID-with-a-vengeance – and still millions more still getting sick – wasn’t bad enough, now we find the advance of COVID BILLS-with-a-vengeance making it even worse.

Here’s the good news:

If you aren’t already vaccinated, you can still get vaccinated for free. There is no cost to being vaccinated, and you’ll be doing yourself, your loved ones, your friends and co-workers, your neighbors, and the economy a huge favor. Here’s a way to find the nearest and most efficient vaccination locations near you.

If you are vaccinated, you either won’t get sick, or you’ll get a mild enough case that you won’t have medical bills like you would if you weren’t vaccinated.

If you think you have developed a COVID infection (even if you are confused as to whether it could be a cold or flu instead), then in most cases, you can be tested for free, or your insurance, or Medicare or Medicaid, will pay for a test. Here’s where to find a testing site near you.

Here’s a last piece of good news: Because most of the ACA is still in force, and especially if you have had a change in your living situation (such as – you have lost your job, or you have separated or divorced from your partner, or maybe you even got married!) – you may be able to find some better pricing on your health insurance. Also, Open Enrollment is coming up in another month or so (Fall) – so it will be a good time to look into updating your health insurance to be sure you have the best coverage you can afford. (Need help finding the best policy for you or your family? Ask a health advocate.)

Here’s the bad news:

If you have been sick with COVID, and have been treated, whether that was in an ER, at the doctor’s office, in a walk-in clinic – or anywhere you have received treatment from a clinical provider – then yes, you are expected to pay for it. No matter how careful or careless you have been, if you have needed treatment, and you get sick in the United States of America, then it’s your cost to bear.

If you are not vaccinated, then you can probably count on all your financial security – your savings, your home, your retirement – flying out the window.

Now – there are some variations on that theme in the form of waivers which relate to your insurance (or other payer – Medicaid or Medicare). You’ll have to check with your insurance provider to see what is expected of you. In general, the less the cost of your policy, the more you are expected to pay out of pocket. Some insurers provide treatment waivers. Others do not.

Further, discussions are taking place on whether or not to increase the cost of policies based on whether an individual has been vaccinated. Not vaccinated? Then you may have to pay more – because if you do get sick, you’ll require more resources to help you get healthy again, IF they can help you get healthy again.

Here’s the really ugly news:

If you get sick, and receive treatment, and die anyway whether or not you had insurance – your heirs (your family – partner and children) may be responsible for paying your medical bills.

If you get sick, and receive treatment, you will get medical bills. Period. But some of them are wrong. And further, some of them are illegal. They are called Balance Bills, and if you have insurance, and the provider gets paid by your insurance, then in many cases it is actually illegal for them to balance bill you. But- how can you be sure?

Let’s try more good news now:

medical billing angel

There are people who can help you sort out medical bills – COVID related or not – and may be able to help you reduce those bills or even get them forgiven all together.

They can figure out which are balance bills. They can figure out if you have been over-charged. They can even figure out if the bills have been already paid by your insurer, but you are being billed anyway.

Then, with your permission, they’ll attempt to get them reduced or forgiven all together.

Who are these medical billing angels? They are private patient advocates. You’ll pay them for their service, but it will seem like little or nothing compared to what you would have owed for your treatment.

Find them here.


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