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medical bills

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

Wow, this is really shocking to see all these bills come rolling in!! Can I ask what everyone did once yours started? How did you find the money to pay all of them? Did you get payment plans? What did you do? Is there any help out there? The woman from the ACS said something about financial help but I was still reeling from the news that I didn't really hear what she had to say. I have a deductible and then a minimum out of pocket. It's not cheap!! It's like I'm just getting used to this cancer idea and now to worry about how to pay for medical care. Wouldn't it be nice if they had to wait till after you were well to bill you!!

Angela

Rague
Posts: 3257
Joined: Aug 2009

I'm sure there are many who can give you info - I can't really. My care is through VA. Not Service Connected and Hubby's income is enough that I have to pay a co-pay but it is definately do-able for me.

wndringmnd's picture
wndringmnd
Posts: 44
Joined: Apr 2011

Hi Angela,
I knew there would be a lot of bills just by the sheer number of times I was visiting different doctors. The first thing I did was buy a spiral notebook and on each page I would write the name of the biller, the amount due and most importantly, the account number. you can have 3 different MRI's but they all register differetly in the accounting department. if is not all ready listed on the 'request for payment' letter to you, then I call the company and ask for an accounting of what the insurance has paid. (you may have to appeal some of their decisions).This is of course is a second job,and I used to use my chemo days to update my accounting. I figured if chemo was going to interrupt my life, I would at least be a little constructive with my time. as far as payment goes that depends on what your family can handle. I had a hospital bill years ago that I couldn't pay but $25 a month on, I went and talked to them and the lady I spoke to said, 'I'm not suppose to tell anyone this but as long as your paying $5 a month, we can't do anything to you' (like legal stuff) and remember to save your cancelled checks for your taxes next year, and make sure to write down the miles you drive to and from each time you go to a doctor. i've racked up over 3000 this year alone. that spiral notebook stays in the car. HOPE THIS HELPS

-Marilyn

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

Marilyn,

Wow! What a good idea. Never even thought of the miles or the notebook. Going to buy one this weekend! Time to get organized!
Thanks!!

angela

Rague
Posts: 3257
Joined: Aug 2009

Also - my DX Radiologist said to be sure to get a copy of every blood test/scan/anything/everything done to you. Yeah you wind up with a tall pile of papers but you have the proof of what was done.

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

Do I just ask the office to send me a copy? Should I do this for the hospital too?

Rague
Posts: 3257
Joined: Aug 2009

I'm always asked who all I want copies to be sent to - I always include myself. If you don't get it, then ask at the next appt you're at - the Dr will have report in his/her 'puter and they can print off a copy then.

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

I never thought of that!! Thanks for the info!! I am going to start doing this on monday.

angela

poplolly's picture
poplolly
Posts: 346
Joined: Apr 2011

I also keep up with how much I pay for parking. We have to park in one of those underground garages.

LVG's picture
LVG
Posts: 128
Joined: Jan 2010

I too was besides myself when all of the out of pocket expenses started rolling in. I haven't had any major 'ongoing' illnesses before. I've always just had a problem - saw a doc, had surgeries (many times in the past). Then, all I had to do was pay the co-pay for the specialty doc; and co-pay for the hospital stay.

But with this.. the chemo treatments, bi-weekly specialities, labs, shots, meds - oh my. I'm already at $4,750. out of pocket. And really was thinking this will do us in. But it hasn't. We've basically used $$ that would have probably been used for a few vacations we've already missed and will not be doing any home improvements what-so-ever this year. Cut back on birthday gifts for the grand kids, nieces & nephew. That has helped a lot. But I often think of those who didn't have $$ to spare for vacations, home improvements, etc... to begin with. What an absolute worry for them.

I always remind others though that the hospitals have in fine print that if you cannot pay your bills - you should ask the financial dept. for assistance. I know also that you should ask for a social worker at the hospital also. Let the social worker know of your concerns and don't be afraid to ask for help. Also - please contact the American Cancer Society at your hospital and ask for help. They really want to help. If not avaiable where you get treatment - go online and put in your zip code and their local office will come up. They are helpful with questions and answers and where to seek help. Pharmaceutical (sp)? companies do often offer help - I'm told. I've sent you a private message with a few links / info that might be helpful. This entire process can be overwhelming. However, I'll bet before the week is out, someone or more on this site will have some answers.

The spiral notebook and a folder to hold all of that incoming medical info is a must. Might as well put the staple, highlighter, sticky notes and paper clips next to the stack of papers. It truly is a second job. And it wore me out - especially since I felt my brain was functioning at 100% during chemo. I'm sorry you had to come here.. but I'm so glad you found this site for help. I rely on how others have handled their journey - to keep me focused on the prize.

Continued success to you on your journey to better health.

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

Thank You so much. I'm going to check out those links : )

LVG's picture
LVG
Posts: 128
Joined: Jan 2010

I should add - I have BSBC insurance.

sea60's picture
sea60
Posts: 2601
Joined: May 2010

I've got great insurance through a private company but unfortunately, I have to meet a 1,500 deductible. They do give you a spending account but it seems it disappears with just the costs of office visits and prescription meds for my daughter and I. So, I'm always paying some medical bill off. PET scans, MRI's, Colonoscopy, all those are so expensive.

Yes, I agree...that would be great if they waited for you to get well before billing you...LOL!

poplolly's picture
poplolly
Posts: 346
Joined: Apr 2011

Robang,

I have insurance but it's not enough to cover the expenses of this treatment. I am one of those people in the middle--I make too much to qualify for help and I make too little to be able to afford this. I pay some of the people I owe $25.00 or $50.00 a month. They usually want me to pay more, but I can't. When I have a little extra money, I send a little more to one of them. I try to pay down on one at a time. The others just have to wait.

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

Was dx in 2009.In 2010 my husband's work insurance started deductibles for us.Since my husband works and also get SS his was paid through Medicaid and the rest with United Health Care.My bills came rolling in.I got tired of it and called doc office etc .Some were being paid.Some they didnt have my insurance card info and once it was for a mammo and by the time I called to see what the problem was,It had been paid. I have some bills now I am needing to call about. Probably don't have my deductible paid yet.Early in the year but bills are slowing.We keep getting checks from insurance.I know one was from the hospital and I must have paid it.They made a check out to me.

It funny you should mention this because this is really getting to me.After so many years of paying for nothing wouldn't you know after my dx I see bills all the time. My head is spinning.

Next year I can get Medicaid and my bills will be paid. I hope I can stay well till then.Just have my mammos and doc appts. One mammo to go and 4 doc appt.Family doctor, oncologist, breast surgeon, urologist.Most of my doctor bills are paid. I have no co pay for that.

Lynn Smith

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

So far I have told a few that I can only pay what I can pay. Hopefully they will all except this. You can't get money out of empty pockets, right?!

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5257
Joined: Oct 2010

all these bills are piling up...I am one of the very lucky ones..I ONLY pay co pays for office visits & co pay for my meds..rest is covered by my medical insurance (happy to say)
I think IF YOU make little payments showing trying to pay-there isnt' much they can do if just don't have the funds!

I wish you luck and hope someone has some good advice here!

Denise

VickiSam's picture
VickiSam
Posts: 8219
Joined: Aug 2009

sharing .. Also, ACS helps pay for gas -- getting to appointments, surgeries and procedures .. please check with your local American Cancer Society branch office .. and we all know gas prices are far too high here in America. Every bit helps.

Vicki Sam

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5257
Joined: Oct 2010

I wonder why cancer centers or Dr offices dont' hand out info on this..I waited almost 2 + yrs to look up this site...

I like many was totally cluelss...

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

Really?

They help for all that? You know, a rep was in the office 2 weeks ago and told me she would send me info on how to get help for this and never sent it. DO I just call and ask if they have financial help?

Thanks!

Ritzy's picture
Ritzy
Posts: 4384
Joined: Aug 2009

I do know that the American Cancer Society will help with gas to and from treatments. There was a woman taking rads when I was, and, that was what she was getting.

Sue :)

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

Funny, whenever I did have an HMO I never got sick!! Now when I'm on private insurance with a deductible and an out of pocket min I get this!! I just can't win!!!

Angela

mariam_11_09's picture
mariam_11_09
Posts: 693
Joined: Nov 2009

They can charge you interest or send it to a collection agency.

Brooklynchele
Posts: 123
Joined: Sep 2010

Angela,

Like you, I also had a deductible to meet. Before my plan started paying, I had to pay $9,000 out of pocket. But that's a lot better than many ladies. Every facility I went to had payment plans and options. The hospitals offered to submit the bills to their charity payment center where other people pay the bills for you. I didn't use any of those free services because I knew there were people much worse off than I was. Contact your providers. I'm sure they have a variety of options. I also believe there are several organizations that help with medical payments. Some of the others on this Board may have more info on them. The only thing I received from ACS was a $25 grocery card. They did not help me with gas but they did offer to help me find a ride. Good luck!

Hugs,
Michele

katznc
Posts: 70
Joined: Mar 2010

Does your hospital have a patient navagator or a financial person in your cancer program at hospital to get you to the right people? They know everything about what to do. Most hospitals have payment plans but they can be cold and hard to deal with. I had both at my cancer center but didn't know they existed until I lost my insurance.

janice_h
Posts: 4
Joined: May 2011

I was recently diagnosed with having breast cancer and have been advised to have a double mastectomy. It was by coincedence - I was in the hospital with a recurring lung problem and when they did a CT scan to see if I'd blown out another lung, they found the masses in both breasts.

I have no insurance. So far the bills have been overwhelming *L* The oncologist told me to not come in until I had the downpayment of $300 for the initial visit. My mouth dropped open needless to say. BUT I contacted the American Cancer Society and they not only have a social worker helping me find financing but also is helping me learn other avenues of obtaining information. Your state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene can be a BIG help in being the middle man. Some of the terms are patient advocate, or social worker, or financing department. If you only have $50 and they want $55, tough 'titties' ... give them what you can. Someone mentioned they can't do much with you (regarding collections) if you are paying what you can. But DO write to each one and advise them of any financial hardships you are facing.

mariam_11_09's picture
mariam_11_09
Posts: 693
Joined: Nov 2009

yeah, it is quite a shocker when you get those medical bills! This is my second year of treatment and I am hoping I will done by the end of the year so I won't have a deducitble and max out of pocket for a third year running. Also our company change health insurance plans twice on me so the max out of pocket keeps getting bigger.

Last year, I was just paying what I could consistantly each month. Only this year when I once again had huge bills in January did they contact me and we agreed on a payment plan. This years bill I would pay with my flexible spending account and last year I would keep paying so I would be done at the end of the year. However they screwed up in a big way and everything was sent to a collection agency! I was rather upset about this. However once it went to the collection agency it couldn't go back.

Fortunately I had a credit card with no interest for 18 months. So I paid off last years on the credit card so I didn't have to pay the collection agency interest and the part of this years bill that went to the collection agency I paid with my flexible spending account.

I haven't made a formal complaint yet but as I said I was really upset, that after coming to an agreement they, without warning sent it off to a collection agency. The good part is that I no longer have to deal with the collection agency AND I get to pay last years bill on a no interest credit card over 18 months instead of 12. Makes it a little easier.

I think you have to engage in some creative financing, shuffle and juggle money around according to what works for you. Most places will leave you alone for a while if you are paying a regular amount every month no matter how small but will put on a little pressure after a while. There are other credit cards such as 'Care Credit' that will give you interest free for one year from date of transaction. These are good backups to have should the pressue be on to pay.

Lastly, as others have mentioned make sure you have bills for everything that was performed, what was done, what it cost, what insurance paid etc. And document all your calls with names of people should you interact with the financial department.

Take care and don't stress too much about this.

chriskaput's picture
chriskaput
Posts: 109
Joined: Jul 2010

I actually started adding up the costs of just co-payments alone...and wow it was hundreds! I contact Cancer Care. They said they would cover any treatment costs and gas reimbursements for going to treatments, etc. I faxed my receipts of my chemo treatments but didn;t have any gas receipts. I got a $820 check within 2 weeks! No questions asked. Good luck ladies, I hope this helps.

Hugs,
Chris

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

You sent them receipts of your co-pay bills and they paid them? When I spoke to them I wasn't offered that. I was given 2 phone numbers to call for help. I called them but in order for them to do anything we had to almost be on welfare. It was like we make too much for help and too little to afford to pay. A lose lose situation for us.

angela

chriskaput's picture
chriskaput
Posts: 109
Joined: Jul 2010

yes Angela, I just sent them a breakdown of every co-payment I paid (faxed it to them). They didn't ask me about household income, etc. When did you contact them? I just did this recently. They even paid me for gas reimbursement I think it was like $150....which I had no receipts for, They just sent me one check for the co-pays and gas reimb.

robang13's picture
robang13
Posts: 333
Joined: Apr 2011

I just contacted them 2 weeks ago. I told them how much out of pocket I had to pay and all the did was give me the 2 numbers to call and told me to be persistent and that it may take months to get them to actually do anything for me. Didn't sound too promising to me. I called one number and there wasn't even a prompt for what I wanted. The other number I never got an answer.

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