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I Don’t Have Insurance, But Have Medical Bills To Pay!

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You’re young. You’re healthy. And then out of nowhere you’re faced with a medical emergency, spend some time in the hospital and are now forced with astronomical medical bills to pay.

What Now?

First things first: don’t get discouraged. It would be easy to stash away your medical bills in a drawer, or sit them far back on a shelf to collect dust, but the fact is that these bills won’t disappear. And most importantly, you are much, much more likely to receive financial assistance if you work with the provider before the bill is sent to a collection agency.

Luckily, there are many steps that you can take to help your situation and potentially even lower your outstanding bills!

Step One: Write a Letter of Hardship to the Provider

It’s important to keep in mind that hospitals are well aware that paying medical bills without insurance can be extremely difficult, so generally they will work with you to find a reasonable way to help you pay off your debt, and can even help lower the overall amount that you owe. Of course all of these great things can’t happen if you don’t ask. This is where a letter of hardship can help save the day.

If you genuinely have no means to pay the medical bills that you now owe, it would be in your best interest to write a letter to the provider letting them know of your situation and your inability to pay. Be sure to include the fact that you are an international student, unfamiliar with the US healthcare system, and any additional information that could help your case. Depending on the amount owed and your personal situation, a provider may write off a good portion, specific services, or even your entire bill! If you don’t receive a response to your letter within a few weeks, be sure to follow-up with a phone call to reconfirm your situation.Of course this isn’t a guarantee, but it’s worth your time to try!

Tip: At the end of the day, it’s important to keep in mind that hospitals are still businesses and they want to be paid for their services – even if it’s not the whole amount that is owed.

Step Two: Ensure that your Bills Are Correct

This step can be time consuming, but it’s worth every moment. It’s especially important to check your bills if you spent a long period in the hospital or had a complicated procedure, as it is possible that a portion of the bill that you’ve received isn’t right. The most common errors tend to be that you’ve been billed for services or medications that you didn’t actually receive. Take into consideration the time that you stayed in the hospital as well. Sometimes if you’ve checked out in the morning you could have been charged for a full day, adding thousands of dollars to your bill.

Tip: According to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, eight in 10 hospital bills include mistakes.

Step Three: Prepare to Negotiate

It’s important to note that the US healthcare system is setup for individuals to have health insurance. Without insurance you will be paying a substantial amount more for the medical treatment that you receive, compared to someone who does have insurance and receives deep in-network discounts. If a letter of distress to the provider doesn’t lower your bill enough, or at all, the next step is to try to negotiate.

As mentioned before, providers want to get paid – even if they don’t receive as much as they’ve billed you for, so you likely have some room to negotiate at least a small portion of the amount that you owe.  In order to do so, it’s important that you are armed with information to help your cause. Check nearby hospitals to discern how much they would have charged for the procedure that you had. If the provider that you visited is charging grossly more, this could be a good negotiating point!

Tip: You can get information on how much providers charge for given treatments from a variety of websites, including  Clear Health Cost and  Healthcare Blue Book.

Step Four: Set Up a Payment Plan

Regardless if you were able to negotiate a lower overall balance or not, providers know that a huge medical bill broken down into small, manageable payments is much more likely to be paid off, so call the provider and ask if they can set up an interest free payment plan. It’s important to speak to the right person and let them know of your situation, and that you’re trying to pay off your debt but lack the income to do so right away.

Tip: Keep in mind that someone who is simply sympathetic to your situation can’t help you – be sure to speak to someone higher up in the billing department directly for the most assistance.

The bottom line is that medical emergencies are never planned, but are always costly.  Luckily for you, there are countless resources available to help you negotiate and even lower your bill, as well as set up payment plans.  Don’t let your bills overwhelm you. As dim as the situation may seem, you can work your way out of it!


Posted by Sutherland Beever

Sutherland joined the team in early 2014 after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the University of North Florida. She has had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Europe, which instilled an unwavering passion of international travel. This, combined with her strong interest in Marketing, led her to join the Envisage team.

15 thoughts on “I Don’t Have Insurance, But Have Medical Bills To Pay!”

Philomina Nsowaa says:

Is this insurance only activated in USA or all-over the world and how can one access it? Thank you.

Leah Hammond says:

Hi Philomina,

Thank you for visiting our blog! Our insurance plans are designed to cover students and travelers outside of their home country, so it will offer coverage in the United States and around the world. I will send you an email to get more information so we can suggest the best insurance plan for you.

Have a great weekend!

Chris says:

Hey, can i get to know your student-insurance providers? thanks

Hello Chris,

Thanks for your comment! Depending on the plan that you choose, we can help you find providers near you. I have sent you an email with more information.

Have a great weekend!

Ankit says:

Hi,

I am an international student on my OPT. I had a different health insurance but my health insurance had expired 2 days before I got injured. I made sure to renew the insurance before I went to the hospital. Unfortunately, the new insurance coverage was going to be effective from the next day. I had to get a couple of surgeries for a rare medical condition. Now the insurance company is denying the claims saying that the injury/accident did not happen when I had the insurance and instead happened during lapse of coverage. Is the insurance company allowed to deny the claim? What are my options now? The medical bills are really high and I won’t be able to pay them off.

Thanks!

Hello Ankit,

Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, we are not able to help you with your question since we don’t know how your insurance works. Your questions are better directed to them. Generally, claims will be approved or denied by your insurance based on your coverage. Read through your policy documents and you may be able to find some answers there. You may also contact the hospital and explain your situation to them.

We wish you luck! Have a great day!

Louis Serrano says:

If I have an old medical bill, but I just got insurance right after, Would my health insurance pay for my medical bill?

Hello Louis,

Thanks for your blog comment. Your question is better directed to your insurance company. Generally, insurances will only cover conditions that happen after the effective start date of your policy but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to confirm that with yours.

Have a great day!

Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman says:

Hi
I am currently in OPT and looking for health insurance in USA. I am confused which company should i deal with. I am wondering why we have to pay all the insurance amount full at a time. Is there any option so that i can make payment in 2-3 installment. I am looking for job so i cant afford that muchmoney now. If you can help me it would be fine.

Leah Hammond says:

Hi Mohammad,

Thank you for visiting our blog!

The Student Secure is an excellent plan option for international students studying inside the USA. You are eligible for this plan during your OPT period, as long as you maintain a valid F1 visa. The plan comes in four levels Smart, Budget, Select and Elite and offers inpatient and outpatient medical coverage up to $200,000 (smart), $250,000 (budget), $300,000 (select) or $500,000 (elite).

*The plan also includes benefits such as:*
* Hospitalizations and doctors visits
* Prescription medications
* Mental health
* Emergency medical evacuation/ repatriation
* Pre-existing conditions (acute onset only with the smart level)
* Maternity and Sports Coverage (budget, select and elite plan only)
* Personal Liability (elite plan only)

It is available with a daily or monthly rate, and monthly payment options – allowing you the flexibility to purchase the coverage you need.

*For students inside the US, aged 25-30, the pricing is as follows:*
* Smart – $2.10 per day or $64 a month
* Budget – $2.47 per day or $75 a month
* Select – $6.15 per day or $187 a month
* Elite – $8.61 per day or $262 a month

Please also note, there is an additional $5 monthly administrative fee added if you choose to pay your plan monthly.

You can apply directly online through our website, and receive instant confirmation by email at:

Please let us know if you have any questions or need further help.

Olamide Akinboye says:

Pregnant and needs insurance

Hi Olamide,

Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, if you are already pregnant, none of our plans will cover your existing pregnancy. However the Atlas Travel plan will offer limited benefits for complications of pregnancy.

I have sent you more information about this plan to your email.

Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Olamide Akinboye says:

I want to a quote

Anton says:

If a student does not have insurance is there a funding source such as a grant that will pay Physicians services provided to International Students? Can Physicians get a tax break by offering care free to International students.

Hello Anton,

Thanks for your blog comment! In the US, there is no government assistance or universal healthcare program if you have medical bills. You will be responsible for your medical care and this is why it is important to have a health insurance plan with sufficient coverage. Also, many schools have a Student Health Center that offer low cost or even free physical exams for their students but it varies. We would recommend checking with your school.

For your second question, unfortunately, we can only assist you with your health insurance needs. For tax related questions, please contact a tax expert.

If you have any other questions, please let us know!


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Student Secure

International Student Health Insurance for full time students around the world.

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International Travel Medical Insurance for anyone outside of their home country.

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