Summary: “A payment plan is a great way to manage overdue medical bills while waiting for your case to resolve. This guide helps you set up a payment plan until I can resolve your case. Contact me if you have any questions.” Mike Burman
A payment plan involves the following steps:
- Organize the overdue bills into manila folders.
- Find out who is the "bill collector" in charge.
- Make sure your health insurance paid what is due.
- Negotiate an affordable monthly payment with the bill collector.
- Pay the negotiated amount on time each month.
- When the case resolves, work with my office to "pay-off" the bill.
Now, let's explain the above steps.
To begin a payment plan, let's group your overdue bills by the medical provider who is demanding payment. Group everything from ABC Hospital together, everything from XYZ Doctor together in another group, until you have everything grouped together by provider. Now, put everything from XYZ Doctor into a folder and everything from ABC Hospital into a folder. Continue until each provider is in a folder. Label each folder with the name of the provider. Come by my office and I will give you all the folders you need.
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 bill. You may have to do some digging and call the provider for this information. Do not worry how pretty it looks.
Then, sort the folders so the folder with the highest bill is first, and the folder with the lowest bill is last.
Before you contact the bill collector, read the bill and ask yourself: is the bill accurate? What did your insurance pay and not pay? If you see anything that does not look right, circle it and make a note in the margin. Examine the dates of service. Do you see service dates that do not 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 so you can discuss your concerns with the bill collector when you ask that any inaccurate charges be removed from your bill.
Contact me if you need help with your bill because health insurance did not pay correctly. My staff and I can often help cut through the issue because we are constantly looking at all types of medical bills. But keep in mind that no law firm has enough people or time to monitor payment of every bill. We examine the bills and medical records at our office, but we also depend on you to tell us if you see something that is "not right."
Once you are satisfied the bill is accurate, you are ready to negotiate with the bill collector. Start with the highest bill and before you call, 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. So, 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.
How much will each provider accept? It depends. Every provider is different and there is no set rule for the amount each provider will tolerate. You just have to roll up your sleeves and find out. Be honest with the bill collector. You will find some 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 by check or money order so you have a record of payment.
When I resolve your case, discuss with me how you can offer to pay an unpaid bill with a "lump sum" amount. In some 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.