New consumer report outlines how to navigate high healthcare costs

Many Americans are struggling with medical debt nationwide it and it can lead to some major consequences like foreclosures. This kind of debt can also impact your health if you put off necessary treatment because you can’t afford it.

That’s why the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) is releasing this new report with factsheets to help you navigate the medical billing process.

“Healthcare prices are so high, we shouldn’t just accept the prices,” said Patricia Kelmar, senior director of health campaigns at U.S. PIRG.

Patricia Kelmar said important know what is and isn’t covered under the federal “No Surprises Act.” The law protects you from most surprise out-of-network medical bills.

“Like the emergency room - you just get taken to emergency rooms,” said Kelmar. “You don’t have to pay those out-of-network charges anymore, you pay as if you’re in-network.”

But she said that same protection doesn’t apply to urgent care centers. That means if you go to a facility that isn’t in your network then you may get a hefty bill.

If you’re uninsured and need medical care, Kelmar said you can request a what’s known as a good faith estimate. This form includes the provider’s name, the procedure and the estimated costs.

“If your final bill comes out over $400 than the good faith estimate, you have the ability to use the patient provider dispute resolution system which will help you hold that provide accountable for the good faith estimate,” said Kelmar.

When you get a medical bill, she said read it carefully because there may be some mistakes.

“You should feel that you have the power to question and to ask and to ask for what you need to be able to pay your debt,” said Kelmar.

Researchers say many hospitals especially non-profit ones provide financial assistance programs for medical bills.

You can find all the various factsheets here.

Comments on this article