Resources for those in Medical Debt - KMOV.com

Resources for those in Medical Debt

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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Crushing medical debt weighs on thousands of people in Missouri and Illinois. According to a recent study from the Urban Institute, 18 percent of all people in the United States have medical debt in collections. That’s the same percentage in Illinois but in Missouri, the average is higher at 21 percent of the population with medical debt in collections. 

Here are some ways to get help.

Register with RIP Medical Debt

RIP Medical Debt can only purchase and forgive a debt that is already in collections.  While they do buy debt in bulk, there is a chance RIP can help, but first you would need to register with the company for debt forgiveness. Click here to register

Apply for Financial Assistance/Charity Care from your hospital

According to the Missouri Hospital Association, in 2016 Missouri hospital’s provided $718,700,547 in charity care and wrote off $537,665,974 in bad debt.  Each hospital has a financial assistance plan or charity care application available to see if you qualify for a reduced bill.  It’s not just for those below the poverty level, individuals making up for $45,000 a year or a family of 5 with an income of $110,000 could be eligible for some form of assistance.

Mercy Financial Assistance   |   BJC Healthcare Assistance   |   SSM Health Financial Assistance

Focus on Hospitals 

The Missouri Hospital Association offers up help with their program: Focus on Hospitals. It lists prices for many common hospital procedures and the available self-pay discount at the hospital. This is only helpful if you do not enter the hospital through the emergency room.

Eligibility for Medicaid/Medicare 

If you don’t have health insurance, many hospitals want to work to see if you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage if you are 65 and older or have a disability. Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage for those with low income. Under the Affordable Care Act, states had the option to expand Medicaid coverage. Illinois expanded Medicaid to cover more low income families, Missouri did not expand Medicaid coverage.  Too see if you qualify, click here.

Negotiate with provider before care 

This will not work for emergency care, but many providers will provide a discount to patients if asked before setting up an appointment or procedure. You can ask for a cash discount. Also if you have low income inform them before hand and see if you qualify for charity care. You can also ask the provider what they charge Blue Cross/Blue Shield patients or Medicaid patients for the same service. Once you reach an agreement on price, make sure and get it in writing.

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