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  • Handling the Disappointment of a Financial Setback

    I had thought that last month’s hospital stay would be pretty much covered by our flexible spending account, so we’d only have to pay a few hundred dollars out of pocket to pay for medical expenses this year.

    I was wrong.

    After receiving more explanations of benefits for medical appointments we all had earlier this year, I’ve determined that our flexible spending account is spoken for before I take the hospital expenses into account.

    It’s making all of the medical bills that much harder to swallow. Mostly because it means a delay in achieving our financial goals. Instead of keeping our hard-earned money in our savings account, the money is going to have to go towards the bills.

    There’s not much I can do about the setbacks to our goals, however. We needed medical care, and we got it. Now we have to pay for it. It’s that simple.

    What I can do is handle the situation gracefully. Here’s how I’m managing to do just that:

    1. Be grateful. The first thing my husband said to me when I told him how frustrated I was about the setbacks was to remember the outcome: No one in our family is seriously ill. The end result of all of this medical care is essentially great!

    2. Keep perspective. Setbacks happen. It’s unrealistic of me to think that we could achieve our financial goals (especially when they’re as monumental as paying off the mortgage in just six years) without some hiccups.

    3. Give. Despite this setback, our finances are still stable and we have more than enough for our basic needs. Giving to others is a tangible reminder that we are still extremely blessed and lucky!


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    Comments

    1. Usually you can call the hospital accounting office (ask to speak to a supervisor) and work out a better deal on medical expenses. When our insurance doesn't cover the cost of expenses, I've been offered a better deal if I could pay in full within a certain number of days. Otherwise, you can always ask for them to let you pay over time (usually 24 months) and this is usually done without interest being tacked on. It's worth a try to call and see if you can work out a better deal.

    2. Money Dieter says:

      Great reminders. It's often hard to get steered off track when it seems that things have been going well for awhile.

      Hopefully you can get this worked out.

    3. You need to ask about prices before you have something done – a lesson many of us need to learn. Check out http://www.healthcarebluebook.com, a free pricing guide. It will tell you what you should pay for a service or treatment by zip code and you can use that price to work out a better deal with your doctor.

    4. Just wanted to reiterate what the first commenter said about hospital payment plans- you can usually work something out with them to pay a smaller amount each month interest free. Not sure if this is right for you and your situation, but it sure beats putting it on a credit card and paying 18+%!

      Hang in there- you are doing FAR FAR better than most people in these trying times. Just having enough to cover your bills is a blessing, never mind the accelerated options.

    5. We were set back by medical bills last year when our son was born and our insurance didn't cover certain things. I did learn that you can negotiate a lot with the hospital – payment options (no interest) as well as discounts for paying in full. I even got a 40% discount for paying in full. I pulled out a credit card with a 1.99 interest rate and pay that way. Even with the interest, I saved! Jessica

    6. Chief Family Officer says:

      Thanks everyone! I may try talking to the hospital – but I also feel like the amount we owe is the amount we owe. Everything was covered by insurance, but because it involved an actual hospitalization, the fees are quite substantial even after the insurance company's payments. What's left is our contractual obligation – and since we can pay, it seems like the right thing to do so.

      Thoughts?

    7. Here is my thought on the hospital bill situation: Whenever a person has any type of medical procedure done, or is hospitalized, if you have private insurance, the bill is higher (by about 30-40%). So, what is leftover for you to pay is already at a much higher rate than a self-pay person. I would definitely negotiate with the billing department.

      Yes, you do owe the remaining amount, but you should NOT have to pay the higher rate just because you have insurance.

      What is boils down to is now that the insurance company has been billed, and the hopsital will be reimbursed at the higher rate, you owe the remaining balance. You are now pretty much a self-payer.

      I wish I had known about this when I was paying off thousands of dollars in medical costs about 10 years ago. I did not realize back then how insurance companies and hospital billing departments worked! Had I known, I would have definitely been negotiating with them.

    8. Mr Credit Card says:

      By all mean speak to the hospital – but remember that you have taken 10 steps forward and maybe you are set back by 2 steps. Happens to all of us. Just keep moving forward.

    9. There is no reason not to ask…the worst they will say is no, we can't give you a discount…and if they give you a break awsome!

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