Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What if you didn't have medical insurance?

Yesterday may forever go down in history as Bloody Monday. Over 71,400 jobs were announced to be axed at major companies. Later in the day NPR's Talk of the Nation discussed how the recession is affecting health care. It's a rough topic but one thing that really stood out for me was the advice about what you should do if you don't have insurance.

#1) Don't wait for the bill--be proactive
#2) Ask the doctor if they are willing to negotiate their fee

In these modern times it seems we rarely ask for what we need. During the Great Depression doctors often bartered their services in exchange for food or services. Then along came medical insurance and things got complicated and crazy expensive. Insurance requires doctors to sign on with various companies and negotiate rates. Plus, every time they see a patient they've got loads of paperwork.

If you have insurance you can't negotiate the fee or co-pay no matter how much of a burden it is for you. Doing so would violate the doctor/insurance company contract.

Without insurance, however, people are much less motivated to make well-check visits for preventative care. By the time they decide to go to the doctor things are usually bad. And we all know that means big medical bills and potential financial ruin.

But now some medical offices can access your credit report and personal information. So even if you plead "no cash" they'll ask you to put it on your credit card or dip into your retirement savings. So before you ask be prepared to bare all. Still it can only help to ask, and remember do it right away at the time of visit.

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