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I Saved Hundreds on Our Medical Bills in 10 Minutes

save money on medical and hospital bills

Baby’s Here – Time for the Hospital Bill!

We knew it was coming – not our bundle of joy, she arrived last month. We were expecting something else – our doctor and hospital bill. They arrived and they were a doozy. The billing department kindly waited until we had a couple of weeks with our daughter before sending us the bills. :)

We received two separate bills- one for our OB/GYN care for the pregnancy and the actual labor and delivery costs from the hospital. Total for our portion of the bill?

$2,500

This matched the $2,500 deductible on the policy. Supposedly we’ll pay the hospital and doctor and my husband will get a  portion of that payment reimbursed. However, we aren’t going to plan that scenario into our budget, in case there’s a problem or delay.

Prompt Payment Discount

We reviewed the bill to make sure it matched what we were expecting. After confirming it looked alright, I noticed a small blurb on the bottom that mentioned a prompt payment incentive. I was going to just use our bank’s billpay feature for the hospital, but decided to instead call and see about this possible discount.

After connecting to a customer service representative and identifying myself, I asked about getting a discount. He explained that the hospital had a policy of giving up to a 15% discount if you paid your balance within 10 days of the statement’s date.

I took advantage of the deal and paid the balance on the spot. Total saved? $375 in about 10 minutes.

It really is a win-win situation. The hospital benefits by getting it’s money upfront and you get to shave down your bill. I would recommend asking for a bigger discount if the hospital offers 10% or less discount, especially if you have a large bill.

Saving for the Medical Deductible

For us automated savings is the main plan. Whenever we get a windfall such as a tax refund or bonus, having an automated deposit or transfer has helped us stay on course. While we have created some sub-savings accounts at ING Direct for specific goals, we decided to keep this in the general savings account.

Spreading Payments

If you can’t afford to pay your bill at once, check with the hospital and/or doctor to see if you can get a payment plan started. Many hospitals will be happy to work with you. Try to get a 0% interest rate if possible. I would also check and confirm that your account will be considered current as long as you make your payments.

Past due medical bills can harm your credit score, which can raise the interest rate you can get with loans like a mortgage.If we didn’t have the money, our hospital could’ve worked out a 12 month payment plan based on our balance.

Thoughts on Medical Bills

Have you ever lowered your hospital bill successfully? How did you do that? How much did you save?

Photo Credit: sunshinecity

Everything Finance Interview

everything finance blog

One of my favorite series is back on Couple Money – Sunday Blogger. As a member of the personal finance community, I’m amazed at how many people are a part of it. Unfortunately that often means that I can’t always keep up with everyone. It’s a shame because there are some wonderful bloggers with their stories and advice on handling finances responsibly and with fun.

To counteract that and get the word out on other bloggers, I’ve started the Sunday Blogger series. It’s my hope that you’ll discover some new voices in the series.

I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I have.

Everything Finance Interview

Why did you start Everything Finance?

Growing up in India, my parents never had credit cards. So if you want to buy something big, you save up for it and pay cash. This was the mindset I came with when I moved to the US. But, the story was totally different here. So to educate myself and others to stay out of debt and start saving, I started my blog.

How long have you’ve been blogging?

I have been blogging about Personal Finance since January, 2007. So going on 4 years now. It’s been amazing to see the blog grow from a free Blogger blog to a self-hosted WordPress website.

You must have some favorite posts that you’ve written on Everything Finance, which are they and why?

Here are some of my favorite posts that I wrote when we were in the market to buy a house. I blogged extensively about our entire experience.

I wrote this one when we were expecting our first baby.

Then there is this post that is extremely popular on Search engines. I still don’t know why.

How do you handle your own finances? Do you have a formal budget or a more informal system?

I currently don’t have a formal budget. But I watch all my accounts like a hawk everyday. I check every transaction to make sure. Since the very beginning, I have followed the money philosophy of “Pay Yourself First”. My wife and I put money in our savings first. Then we budget for our expenses. So this works very well for us.

I also really like Mint.com. I can see my entire Financial Living at a glance. I can keep track of my income and expenses easily. They also have an iPhone app.

What are your goals this year with Everything Finance?

I started this blog as hobby. But now it’s much more than that. My main focus on the blog will be changing from “Saving Money” to “Earning More Money”. I would also like to double my readership this year.

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Thanks to Tushar for the wonderful interview. I hope you take a few minutes today to check out Everything Finance and chat with him on Twitter.

Joining the Sunday Blogger Series

If you’re interesting in being interviewed as part of the Sunday Blogger series, I have a few requirements.

  • You’ve been blogging for 3 months.
  • You’ve publish genuine content. I want to connect to genuine bloggers, not linking to a spam site. I review all the sites before sending out interview questions.
  • You’re willingly to promote other bloggers in the series. I don’t expect you to tweet  ever interview, but I would like interviewees to spread the word on their favorite bloggers. By the way, I don’t want others to just promote the posts, please share posts from your favorite interviews. They are some wonderful bloggers out there.

 

Nominate Your Favorites for the Plutus Awards!

plutus awards personal finance

Plutus Awards

It’s an exciting time of the year – until this Sunday, August 28, nominations are open for this year’s Plutus Awards. Think of it as the Oscars for the personal finance field. Right now nominations are being accepted in various categories.

This nomination phase allows the personal finance blogosphere to write in candidates. Besides nominating your favorite financial companies and products, you can also pick some of your favorite personal finance sites (*cough*), like Couple Money :)

While I’m grateful for any nominations, here are a few categories I think are right up Couple Money’s alley –

  • Best Personal Finance Blog for Generation Y or X
  • Best-Kept Secret Personal Finance Blog
  • Best Multi-Part Series (I think the Baby Expenses Series fits the bill :P )

I already placed my nominations many of the straight from my own blogroll. I read them regularly and had to include them.

Personal Finance Posts to Catch Up On

If you have some free time this weekend and want some tips and information for your finances, be sure to read some of these wonderful posts.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. I also recommend checking out my blogroll to pick up some great personal finance blogs to follow. Please also let me know what are some of your favorite blogs that you enjoy reading on a regular basis.

Have fun this weekend with your family and try to stay cool!

 

Public School Doesn’t Mean Free

public school costs

 

Public school is “…maintained at public expense for the education of the children of a community or district and that constitutes a part of a system of free public education commonly including primary and secondary schools” according to the dictionary. That sounds great, but if the schools are free why are parents paying so many fees?

The fees are nothing new. As a military family we moved a lot when I was growing up. I remember one school district charged fees to rent the textbooks. But there is a perception that there are more as a result of the poor economy.

We’re not talking about costs for extras like yearbooks and prom, but rather items that we expect to be included.

Transportation

The school district we lived in while our kids were growing up didn’t provide buses to school after grade school. We either had to drive them or pay for public buses.

Having to buy a bus pass every month was a hassle and additional expense but the high school was about 10 miles away. It was all a matter of geography because the school district next to us provided buses through 12th grade.

Lab, Technology and Instruction

Science and technology classes require supplies and/or equipment that the typical class does not. Some schools are now passing these higher costs to the students or to be more precise, their parents. Many of these classes are required for students wanting to continue on to universities.

Advanced placement courses, which didn’t exist all that long ago, are also bringing in revenue at some schools.

Sports and Extra-Curricular Activities

Students may need more than skill or drive to participate in school sports now. All it used to cost was the price of the physical. Now many schools charge athletic fees which range from $35 to $200 per sport.

Then there is band, cheer-leading, clubs and more activities that also have, you guessed it, fees. Even graduation can have a $30 or higher fee!

One family mentioned in a recent article spent over $4,000 in fees for their four kids to participate in sports, band, classes and activities. This is on top of the property taxes paid that is dedicated to pay for public education.

I understand why the schools are adding costs here and there. Their budgets have been cut by states, cities and counties that have vastly decreased tax revenues. They’re trying to figure out how to provide the same services with less money.

That doesn’t make it right. Public school should be free; that’s the promise we’ve always had in this country. What’s your opinion on public school fees?

photo : Some rights reserved by calculat0r

Preparing for Emergencies- Earthquake in Virginia; Hurricane Irene in North Carolina

hurricane season disaster

Earthquake in Virginia

Yesterday while the three of us were going around town taking care of errands (aka looking for an HP TouchPad) an earthquake occurred in Virginia. While we didn’t personally notice it, our family on the Eats Coast certainly did and contacted us to make sure we were alright.

I’m happy to hear that there was no deaths and no major damage due to the earthquake.

Hurricane Irene This Weekend?

Unfortunately the earthquake isn’t the only weather related news on my radar this week. Hurricane Irene is coming up and some of the models have it projected to hit the Outer Banks in North Carolina. While our area will probably be spared the brunt of it, many people could need to evacuate.

Considering the two big events of this week, I decided to review our emergency plan.

Emergency Kit Supplies

After you have a plan, many organizations like FEMA recommend having an emergency kit ready to cover the immediate needs of your family until help arrives.  What do you need for your emergency kit? According to the Red Cross, here are some of the esstentials:

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day (3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home)
  • Food—non­perishable, easy­to­prepare items (3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery­powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7­day supply) and medical items
  • Multi­purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

In addition to the above supplies, depending on your family’s circumstances, you may also need:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two­way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Find and Go to a Safe Location

If you’re in an area where a disaster, like a hurricane, will strike, you should have a safe location planned to evacuate your family. Most of our family lives relatively nearby, so their places aren’t necessarily safer if we need to leave. Our best bet would be to head a few hours West to where a couple of our live. Should we need to head over there, we’d notify our families and give them another contact number to reach us by.

Protect Your Pets

Of course, if you have to leave, you’d like your pets to be safe. Before disaster strikes try to keep a list of hotels and motels that accept animals on the premises. You also want to have your local animal shelter’s number ready in case you have to call to get other recommendations if your first few choices are full.

Make sure your pet is secure in a pet carrier in case they panic. You need to be able to keep them under control as you evacuate. If you haven’t already consider getting your pet an ID chip or at least have their collar tags up to date with your contact information.

You can’t afford to have a limited water and food supply and many mouths to feed. Your pets should also have their own survival kit.

  • Pet food
  • Bottled water
  • Medications
  • Veterinary records
  • Cat litter/pan
  • Can opener
  • Food dishes

If you can’t take your beloved pets with you, call boarding kennels and make arrangements for their care. Have their medical records on hand to prove they are up to date.

Being Prepared For Emergencies

I’ll admit right now, we aren’t prepared as we should be with our emergency kit. Just because of the time involved in getting one ready with everything, I’m heavily leaning towards purchasing a kit a pre-made kit from an organization like the Red Cross.  We really would need to have something grab and go ready.

How prepared are you? Do you have a plan and kit ready for your family?

Photo CreditNOAA/NASA GOES Project