Financial Issues

FLWParkinson’s disease manifests differently in each person. For some, life goes on with only modest disruption. For others, careers must be curtailed. The reduction in income could force you to downsize or change your lifestyle. You may face difficulty paying for doctor’s visits, medications, therapies and long term care.

First, do not blame yourself for circumstances that are out of your control. The American Journal of Medicine reported that bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50 percent in a six-year period, from 46 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners.

Many people find in the later stages of Parkinson’s that they need more physical or occupational therapy than what their insurance covers; some medications may not be covered by every insurance company’s formulary.

You can negotiate with your health care providers! They are aware that medical expenses can be a financial drain. They are used to negotiating with patients as well as health insurance companies. Giving discounts for unusual circumstances is common practice, and significant discounts are not unusual. Providers will also likely be able to provide resources that can help with the cost of medications.

Before negotiating a discount, look online to find the range of expected payment for that treatment or procedure in your geographic area. New Choice Health is one of several websites that can help you find these figures.

Hospitals and doctors do not want to attempt legal remedies to collect a debt. Collection services take as much as 50% of the collected amount, plus any costs incurred in the collection. On an average basis, the total received from all collected accounts may be in range of 25%, and the health care provider may wait a considerable period of time to be paid from the collection agency. If you make an offer of 35%, there is a good chance it will be accepted, and a better chance if you can offer immediate payment.

Be realistic in your plan. It is easy under the pressure of negotiating to agree to a price that may reflect a big discount, but is still outside your means. Be completely honest about what you can pay, and how long you will need to pay it.

If you are uncomfortable negotiating, there are services like Medical Billing Advocates of America that will negotiate on your behalf for a fee. An attorney or nonprofit advocate may also help.

If you are receiving Medicare and need assistance, call or write to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or view Programs to Help You Pay Medical Expenses.

Phone: 1-877-267-2323 or 1-410-786-3000
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore MD 21244-1850