Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More Health and Money Stuff

Quick status update: heart is better, kidneys are better, liver is worse, diabetes is worse. I'm back in the medical system again, but this time I'm being treated as an outpatient, I managed to stumble on a better nest of doctors, and I have insurance, a little savings, and experience in dealing with American healthcare. I've posted this before, but since it's actually useful information, I'll summarize what I've learned again.
  1. Do not get sick in this country.
  2. If you must get sick, be sure you are wealthy and can get treatment overseas.
  3. If that's not an option, make sure you have decent insurance. Aetna has been good to me. Note - talking to my fellow sickos has taught me that no insurance company is decent once you start costing them serious money.
  4. Do not use credit cards to pay for procedures unless you are sure you know the full amount you are facing. Hospitals can bill separately by department, doctor, and date and type of treatment if desired, and often take up to six months before sending you an initial bill.
  5. If the bill is more than you can pay, make every effort to contact their billing department to negotiate a monthly payment. Go for the lowest amount possible since you never know if they plan to send you future bills.
  6. Stick to the negotiated payment plan. If you have extra money, save it.
  7. Do NOT allow the payment schedule to extend beyond three months if the remaining amount will be under $1,000. Although you will be expected to stick to a written agreement with the hospital, they will not have to do the same. I had three hospital bills I was paying that dipped under $1k after three months, and all three billing offices sent them to an outside collection agency without bothering to inform me.
  8. If you have a bill that will fall to under $1,000 after the third payment, pay the full amount before it drops below $1,000. If you lack the funds, use a credit card if available. It will cost more, but even before the 2010 law the credit card companies were forced to be more fair and honest than a hospital.
Note - the $1,000 limit is due to a few factors. One is that lower amounts are worth more as a write-off, whereas if you owe serious fundage then they'll prefer the money. Two is that $1,000 is the cutoff between a small-claims court and a regular court case. A full-blown lawsuit will involve lawyers and a possibly sympathetic jury, whereas lawyering-up is considered taboo in small claims and the judges tend to be conservatives who see the hospitals as shining beacons of care and sympathy and the plaintiffs as greedy scum who don't want to pay their fair share.

6 comments:

Whitemist said...

And the glorious republicans in the senate and house will make sure nothing will ever be done about the system...
Scott Brown particularly would run over you with his SUV!

Jay said...

#1 is really our only good option.

It isn't just the republicans in the senate. My democratic senator is desperate to protect the insurance industry. She is willing to lose an election to make sure the insurance companies are protected from us horrible people.

Also, those judges you talk about will always side with the hospitals and doctors because he wants to run for higher office and will need their contributions.

Avitable said...

So your liver and diabetes are in cahoots with the hospital who still wants to collect, aren't they? Fuckers.

Monogram Queen said...

Good good advice - I agree insurancew sucks but we'd be screwed without it!

Robin said...

If I ever get sick, I'm just gonna lay down and die...like an animal. Seems to be a much less stressful or painful option.

Grant said...

Whitemist - running people down with an SUV could count as a mercy kill in some cases.

Jay - hopefully Obama will pass a law saying that every American will win the powerball lottery at least once.

Avitable - but my heart and kidneys decided to get back on my team for the moment, although they've now lost credibility with me and have to start paying dues again.

Monogram Queen - so far I have no complaints with my insurance company, but then again I'm still paying them more than they're paying the hospitals so they like the current arrangement.

Robin - if you're well enough to travel, try going to Europe or Japan. The available healthcare is on par with ours, only it doesn't cost nearly as much.