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Problem Solvers: How to deal with big medical bills

N.Y. bill extends medical malpractice deadline
Posted at 4:16 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 23:32:53-04

TULSA, Okla. — Hilda Megowan spent the start of August in a Tulsa emergency room. However, it's what she got afterward that's causing her even more trouble.

“So, I came in with the diagnosis of abdominal pain and I left with the same thing,” Megowan said.

She still isn’t sure what caused her severe abdominal pain but she does know what’s causing the pain in her bank account.

“They took a blood test and they send it in, which was like $700 some for a blood test and seriously people? Plus, I got an extra bill from the test place for the blood,” Megowan said.

She doesn’t have insurance and told the hospital that when she was there. Megowan thought that would make her bill more affordable but when she opened her mail, she was wrong.

“I mean, I was like, how many more bills? I was scared to go to the mailbox and open it because it was like more bills, more bills, more bills coming,” she said.

Megowan now owes more than $8,000 in medical bills. Her CT scan costs nearly $4.000 alone. That’s on top of an emergency room bill, pharmacy bill, lab bills, doctor's fees, and more. She says she just can’t afford it all.

“My income right now is COVID damaged,” Megowan said.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you can do:

1. Ask for an itemized list of charges and check for errors
2. Seek payment assistance programs especially if you are low income or disabled
3. If you can, before you head to the hospital, shop around for the best deals
4. If you have insurance—understand what it does and doesn’t cover
5. Try negotiating the cost ahead of time
6. Offer to pay upfront for a discount
7. Work out a payment program with the provider

Megowan has already paid $1,600 of her bill and is now looking into her options moving forward.

The Community Service Council of Tulsa says if your income has been impacted by COVID-19 and you get slapped with a big medical bill, call 211.

You can talk to a caseworker about your bill to find out if you qualify for any assistance through its programs.

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