Save money on medical bills

July 3, 2012 2:11:13 PM PDT
With questions still surrounding President Obama's Affordable Care Act, we went searching for ways you can save on your medical bills right now - whether or not you have insurance.

Most hospitals in North Carolina are non-profits, which means they offer discounted charity care if you're uninsured and they're able to work out payment plans for the remainder of your bill.

Nicole Dozier of the Health Access Coalition says make sure you ask specifically for both.

"If they are non-profits, they are supposed to do that because hospitals that are non-profits do get sales tax and property tax breaks to be able to afford to do that for the community," Dozier explained.

And if you're on prescription medications, don't pay for the same medications you have at home while you're in the hospital.

"If you're going to take some of the same medications while you're in the hospital, bring them with you. While people who are there to take care of you will have to monitor that, you can bring your own medicines with you," said Dozier.

And once the bills start coming in, examine them closely for any mistakes. Dozier says it can also pay to do your homework before you head to the hospital.

Websites like www.fairhealthconsumer.org offer estimates of what your procedure should cost based on your zip code.

Dozier showed us how it works. When she looked into the cost of a colonoscopy, it shows someone without insurance can expect to pay a little more than a thousand dollars. Those with insurance could anticipate paying as much as $322 out of pocket.

And for questions about your insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, Dozier recommends turning to www.ncdoi.com/smart through the department of insurance.

"[It] will help you figure out if you have what's right for you and also if you believe something's covered and you're denied by your insurance company they will also help you," she explained.

And here are some other websites that can help save you money on medical bills.

Tips for savings:

http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-07-2010/big-savings-health.html

Overused tests:

http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-04-2012/overused-medical-tests-and-treatments.html

Surgeries to avoid:

http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-05-2011/4-surgeries-to-avoid.html

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