Blindsided by Medical Bills

The medical bills for my husband’s therapeutic phlebotomy started rolling in. I did not expect each visit to be $720 a pop! Insurance reduced the $720 charge to about $600, and then we needed to meet our $1,000 deductible. These blood draws started in December and continued weekly for about 5 weeks. Into the New Year, and into a whole new $1,000 deductible. I could throw up, guys. So far we have about $1,800 in medical bills! We are expecting another $1,350 in bills to come in soon, too for a sleep study and a CT Scan.

My husband is healthy which is the most important thing, they just don’t know why he has elevated red blood cells. All the tests have come back normal!

Luckily, we have our emergency fund of $1,000 and the Savings – Tax CD that I set aside to pay our tax bill, which we won’t need since we got a refund this year. So theoretically we can cover the expense, but it will set us so far back!

Fortunately for me, I heard an amazing podcast by Shannon Lally-Mclay over at Financialy-Blonde.com in which she interviewed Pat Palmer. The episode is called Medical Billing Questions Answered. Using the advice from this show, I learned some actionable steps to work out an arrangement with this bill.

  • Request an itemized bill to look for billing errors
    1. This didn’t help me much. There was hope originally because each of my bills that were originally $720 had a charge of $628 that was listed as “other charges”. ‘Great!’ I thought. ‘Let them explain that!’ The itemized bills came, and the $628 changed from “other” to Therapeutic Phlebotomy. Boo.
  • My second plan was to negotiate a reduction in the bill BUT, I found that my particular hospital has a program called Compassionate Care in which you submit your financial information and if approved, 70-100% of your bills will be forgiven. That will be a God send!

I submitted the application a few weeks ago and we are waiting to hear back regarding it. Now that I know the hospital is willing to forgive up to 100% for charity, I feel much better negotiating our balances!

What Now?

Here are some more steps as I interpreted them:

  1. Ask for a payment plan on the negotiated amount. Medical bills are a 0% interest payment plan! We will not bust the budget if we don’t have to! It doesn’t cost anything to stretch the payments out as long as possible and make it easier on ourselves. However….
  2. We can request a further discount for prompt payment in CASH. Like, today. Right now. I will bring you $500 to make this go away. That’s what the good ol’ Emergency Fund is for! Also, always make sure your negotiation is in writing.
  3. If we cannot get a further discount for prompt payment in cash, we will use our Flex Spending Account to make the payments. If we don’t have enough on my Flex Spending Account to make the monthly payments, I’ll make post tax contributions which we can claim on our Income Tax at the end of the year regardless if we itemize or not. This could mean a further discount of however much our income tax rate is for the year.

Wish me luck in battling these medical bills! Thanks for reading.

 

XOXO
Dolores

February 2017 Net Worth Update

Welcome to our February 2017 Net Worth Update! We are getting closer and closer to having 100% of the bills paid on the last pay day of the month.

statement-of-net-worth-february

As promised, we are seeing an increase in net worth this month! We had some surprise medical bills come up. A LOT of medical bills, so I’ll be making a post about how we plan to deal with that in the next few days. I suppose at that time I’ll have to add those bills to the Statement of Net Worth if we decide to make a payment arrangement on them. If not, we may do a combination of our Tax CD and Emergency Fund to pay them off. But, I digress! On to the breakdown.

Assets

The house, man! I have been entering numbers in Excel since I started paying February’s bills on January 27th. The house has been steadily decreasing in value since then. It started off with $500 decrease and now we are at $984! Darn it!! There really isn’t much I can do about it.

At the time of writing this blog, I’m waiting for our handyman to arrive and take measurements of our doors and give us a verdict on whether he thinks they need to be filled and sanded with a new door hole installed, or completely swapped out. I have $350 cash to pay him for the job and I think it’s going to cost about $250 plus the cost of one new door. I think the bathroom door is beyond repair. Note to Self: Claustrophobic dogs are no less claustrophobic when enclosed in a bathroom rather than a kennel. Since we will have about $100 left in the Handyman Labor budget, I think I’m going to ask him to install a new dishwasher because ours has been broken a long time, and it would just make my life so much easier! Some other things I considered asking for repair with this $100:

  • Bathroom vanity and faucet – you guys know how much I hate my bathroom sink. Oh you don’t? Perhaps I should show you sometime. That would be a fun blog post. Small Scale Renovation Goals!
  • New kitchen sink with garbage disposal – Oooh how I long for a garbage disposal. Plus my drains in the kitchen sink are shot. One side of the sink is not functional at all, and the other side ate the drain guard thingy. It’s stuck in there now and broken. #oldhouseproblems My ideal sink would be a 60/40 double sink or maybe even 70/30 if those exist.

Moving on…

The Dodge Dart also went down quite a bit. I’m trying to keep track of what I’m entering in to Kelly Blue Book so I can be sure to get an accurate depreciation each time so I can be sure these fluctuations are actual increases and decreases in value and not just me mistakenly entering in the wrong model and wrong mileage.

Savings is a little higher in recent months than it typically would be when I show our Statement of Net Worth because I have been needing to wait later in the month to make our credit card payment, so you’re seeing the savings we are building up for the next month’s bills.

Our Emergency Fund and our Savings – Tax CD might be leaving soon due to the medical bills I discussed earlier. I have a plan of attack for those, though. Will write more about that in a later blog.

Due to the decrease in our home’s value and the Dodge Dart, our assets decreased in value this month $654. Darn. It. All. But on the good side, other increases in assets offset the loss so that’s a bonus.

Liabilities

This month, only one account went up in value and that’s the Navient account which is to be expected. I know I mentioned that I would start sending extra to this account soon, but until I know 100% what’s going on with the medical bills I’m just not sure what I can do with this.

All in all I think our medical bills before fighting and negotiating are going to be more than $2,500. Scary stuff!! But the love of my life is healthy and that’s what matters most.

So all in all we have an INCREASE in Net Worth (just like I promised) of $1,167!! This is by far the largest increase we have seen in our journey and is much more typical of what we can do every month when we aren’t buying new cars and giving vehicles to our children 🙂

Thank you guys so much for reading and keeping me accountable!

Coming up in March 2017:

  • Stupid, stupid medical bill post. Booo….
  • An Increase in the Liability Account – Home Depot for the purchase of a new interior door and dishwasher on special 0% interest financing