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a woman uses a monocle to stare closely at her bills

Tackling the Never-Ending Mountain of Bills

We all know someone who has had cancer or even a friend with this horrible disease and what it can do to you. I have known people who take chemotherapy, radiation and have had surgery. This can make people frail, sickly and not able to even get out of bed. Let’s not talk about the tests, physician visits, and medications that you must endure. This is just the beginning of your journey.

Nobody warns you about the cost

Nobody ever bothers to tell you how much this would cost and the never-ending mountain of bills. No one bothers to tell you that your life long savings would be gone, and you must take out a 2nd mortgage on your home. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to call drug companies and medical workers for help just to get a prescription filled.

The one thing I have learned through this experience is that it can wear you out mentally and physically. I never thought in a million years that I would be getting bills for thousands of dollars, after all, I do have “good” insurance. Dealing with all of this has put a burden on me.

Pain and more pain

I have talked to so many people who have drained their bank accounts after a loved one has become sick. Most likely you won’t just get a bill from the hospital and the doctor but also one from the urologist, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, oncology nurse, dietitian, physical therapist, counselor, and who knows how many more. But I know one thing; none of this is free.

I am still paying off bills that were accumulated years ago, which can be stressful. I’m still able to work and had planned on retiring early, but I have more money going out than coming in. My father was diagnosed with throat cancer, prostate cancer, and COPD, so I got hit with an enormous amount of bills. He is 85 and still going strong and that is all that matters to me. I don’t mind working a few more years to keep him comfortable.

Check your bills

I have gone over countless bills and found many errors, but the hardest part is getting the right people to correct them, but I never give up. The biggest mistake I found was a charge for one thousand dollars for a pad that I could have brought for a dollar. It took months to correct this, but I still had to pay five dollars for it. I asked a nurse why there were so many mistakes on my bills. She was very honest and told me that most hospital bills have errors. She said they have thousands of codes they must use, and mistakes are made, and not to mention all the hands in the pot.

I had one doctor’s office who told me to pay the wrong amount and they would send me a refund. Sure, you will!! I did have to fight for months to get everything straightened out, but in the end, I did get my refund.

What can we do?

As I have said plenty of times, you must be your own best advocate. If you know it’s not right; don’t just sit still.

  • Challenge your doctor, ask questions, ask why you need this test.
  • If time is not of the essence, shop around and compare health facilities, be proactive.
  • If you get a bill that says miscellaneous charges, ask them to explain the charges.
  • Push back – if they made a medical mistake, handle it at once.
  • Beg – I know we don’t want to do this, but it helps to haggle just a little.

Healthcare is a big business and sometimes we must push our weight around. We spend $2.9 trillion dollars every year on healthcare; that comes to $9,255 dollars per person every year for our health care. Our medical service is getting higher, but the baby boomers are taking over, and we are living longer. Along with that comes the elderly who are getting deep-rooted diseases, along with outpatient and emergency room care.

So, I’m asking you to stand up for yourself. Don’t let the hospitals, doctors or whoever rob us. Start calling them out; do it now.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Len Smith moderator
    3 months ago

    Diane, I switched over 100% to the VA two years ago for all my medical care, but I kept my Medicare just in case they take the VA takes me off 100% disability. Last June the VA sent me by ambulance to the local hospital for what turned out to be a craniotomy (think brain surgery). 9 days later I had the same symptoms, and the VA nurse told me to go back to the same hospital, and my craniotomy had to be redone. On the first one, the hospital billed the VA, and they got fully paid. On the second one they billed Medicare by mistake (because they did that, the VA won’t pay a penny) and now they’re trying to collect $1,700 from me, which is the Medicare deductible and their mistake. Needless to say, they’re going to have to go to court to collect that from me.

  • Diane Talbert moderator author
    3 months ago

    It is so crazy how they try and get money they are not entitled too. It;s a never ending fight.

    I hope to see you in October. How are you doing anyway?

    You take care,

    Diane

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