How to Save Yourself from Medical Bills that can Bankrupt Families

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  WHNT NEWS 19 is taking action to help you keep your sanity when it comes to unexpected bills--medical bills, to be specific.

Since you never know when you may be injured or sick and need medical treatment, we searched out some tricks to help you avoid the kind of costs that can bankrupt a family.

The Affordable Care Act is aimed at making healthcare affordable for everyone, but it's better to avoid the costs altogether, if possible.  Here's how:

Keep the physical and financial pain manageable, the Consumer Health Alliance put out a list of things you can do to minimize those costs.

Consider joining the 45 million people in the US who are members of a discount health plan.
It can supplement your insurance and save you money on out-of-pocket health costs and things not covered by insurance.  The agreement is you pay a monthly fee and can save up to 60 percent at in-network providers.

Next, you can check out what things "should cost" by using the Healthcare Blue Book.
The website compares medication prices at local pharmacies and searches for prescription generics, manufacturer discounts and pharmacy coupons.   Similarly, the website has a smartphone app which pulls up prices of various drugs at nearby pharmacies for you to compare.

Most important, check your bills very closely.

Medical Billing Advocates of America say eight out of ten medical bills contain billing errors.
You can seek out professional help if you get confused when trying to decipher such a bill.
For example, is a service you can hire to help.  Their website spells out how the billing is done, why some bills are so high, as well as the most common billing errors and how to fix and, if necessary, fight them.  If you retain them, they don't charge anything if and until they get money back for you.

Finally, experts advise avoiding the emergency room if at all possible.

The Washington Post cited a study funded by the National Institutes of Health which reports the average emergency room visit now costs 40 percent more than a month's rent.

If possible, experts advise going to an urgent care center or your primary care doctor.

And chat with your pharmacist.  You might ask for a 'pill review' to see if there are any duplications or recommendations for cheaper generic medications.

Also, click here for an article that names three top smartphone apps that provide free medical advice.  You can chat and text back and forth with a medical professional and ask them any question.


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