by Michael Burman
“In a personal injury case, getting your medical bills paid on time, is one of the primary professional services provided by Burman Law. This blog discusses how to handle unpaid medical bills caused by large deductible payments not covered by insurance, or some other cause for delay. The goal here is to set aside some of your income to protect your credit history until Burman Law can fix the problem. A payment plan for medical bills is an effective way to manage overdue medical bills while waiting for your case to resolve. This Blog gives you the steps you need. Contact me if you have any questions or need help.” Mike Burman
Because a payment plan for medical bills, involves your personal finances and budget requirement, I find that most clients want to set up a payment plan themselves. But if you need our help you, we are here for you.
A payment plan for medical bills involves the following steps:
Now, let's explain the above steps.
To begin a payment plan, group your overdue bills by the medical provider who is demanding payment. For example, group everything from ABC Hospital together in one folder, and everything from XYZ Doctor together in a separate folder, until you have everything grouped together by the name of the provider that charged you for the unpaid medical services in your personal injury case. Name each folder with the name of the provider. Come by my office and I will give you all the manila folders you need at no charge. Or, set up digital folders on your computer, and put the bills into one digital file. There is no need to make a separate digital file for each bill unless you want to for some reason.
Next, on the front of each folder, write the contact person in charge of collecting the overdue bill, that person's contact phone and email, the account number, and the total amount of the unpaid bill. If you do not know who to contact, then contact my office for that information.
Next, sort the folders so the folder with the highest unpaid bill is first, and the folder with the lowest unpaid bill is last.
Burman Law routinely gathers medical bills in your case and inputs your medical bills into our computer system. But we encourage you to check the bill yourself and ask: does this bill look accurate? What did insurance pay and not pay? Does anything not look right? Circle any concerns and make a note in the margin. Examine the dates of service. Do you see service dates that don't match the dates you received treatment? Do you see charges for services you did not receive? Do you see charges for prescriptions you did not take? You may have to read the bill several times. Circle anything that concerns you, and write notes in the margins, then contact Burman Law with your concerns before you contact the bill collector. It could be that an inaccurate charge is removed from your unpaid medical bill.
Once you are satisfied the provider's bill is accurate, you are ready to negotiate with the bill collector for each provider. Start with the provider with the highest bills. Before you call the bill collector for that provider, come up with an amount you can afford. This is your target number. Write down that number on your folder, and do not go over it. When you contact the bill collector, start with a number that is lower than your target number. If you are tempted to pay by credit card, think twice because credit cards charge high-interest rates. A payment plan will usually incur no interest. That's right, if you work out a payment plan with a provider and pay on time, the provider will usually not charge any interest as long as you pay on time. But, you must determine what your budget will allow you to pay. Many of my clients have negotiated payments of $5 to $35 per month or even $50 per month on very large bills. The provider will likely start out with a number that is too high for you. Don't be afraid to talk them down. Go low. You can always go up. Do not go above your target number. Repeat this process for each provider.
You may want to wait to reach an agreement with a bill collector until you know what the other bill collectors expect. Call our office if you feel you have reached a wall.
How much will each bill collector accept? It depends. Every provider and bill collector will accept different amounts. There is no set rule for the negotiated amount. You just have to roll up your sleeves and find out. Be honest with the bill collector. You will find most to be sympathetic and appreciative of the fact you are trying to pay your bills after an injury you did not cause.
Once you have an agreement on a monthly amount, make your payments on time. This is a huge trust builder. As long as you make your payments on time, a payment plan allows you to maintain your credit history and avoid a bad mark on your credit history for a medical bill that was not your fault to start with. Make sure to pay by check or money order so you have a record of payment.
When I resolve your case, discuss with me how you can reduce an unpaid bill with a "lump sum" pay-off. In many cases, we can wipe out the overdue bill entirely, or reduce the amount of the bill substantially.
If you get stuck and need help, contact me. My staff and I are always glad to help.
Mike is a death and injury lawyer with 25+ years of experience helping hundreds of accident victims against at-fault drivers and commercial operators of all types. Other lawyers often call Mike for advice with their personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits. Once you begin your free case evaluation with Mike, you will know the legal advice is coming from an experienced attorney who knows the law and wants to help you overcome a difficult situation in your life.