We all know that when it comes to healthcare is better to prevent than to treat. Similarly, when it comes to medical bills, it’s better to take all the necessary measures to avoid escalating costs. As you might already know the invoices for hospital stays or even day interventions can be as much as a tropical vacation. Although you can’t avoid getting sick, there are a few things you can do to minimize the financial impact. Here are the top ideas.

Shop around and get preauthorization

Don’t just settle for signing your medical bills. Ask for a detailed list of the services and drugs which were provided. Use online tools to compare medical facilities such as Health Care Bluebook. Compare prices in your areas as well as the quality of the medical act. Just a quick online scan can save you hundreds of dollars since there is no standardized price of medical services.

Once you found the best facility for your need, contact the insurance company. Get it in writing that they will pay for all the test and required medical imaging before getting them done. This is a sure way to avoid paying for those yourself.

Keep the paperwork

Even in emergencies ask for a detailed paper trail of the procedures you get. It’s a simple way to avoid overcharges, errors and ultimately paying more. Since you could be unable to handle this if you are under surgery or in recovery, instruct a family member to do it for you. Get copies after everything that you benefited from, even canceled testes or interrupted treatments.

Don’t let medical bills gen on the credit report

Medical bills are the primary factor of bankruptcy in the US. You shouldn’t have to choose between your physical health and your financial one. Unpaid medical bills can take a toll on your credit score for up to seven years if they end up with a collection agency, usually after 180 of delinquency.

Here’s what you can do to minimize the damage or to remove it completely:

  • Pay your bills as soon as possible. When you know you won’t be able to cover the cost contact your healthcare provider and ask for a solution like installments or a personalized payment plan. Another option is to take out a small personal loan.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Hospitals already know that a debt sent to collections is most of the times a lost cause. Therefore, the billing departments are most of the times open to discussions. Sometimes even asking for complete forgiveness could work, although this is not a foolproof tactic.
  • Agree with the collection agency on a payment schedule that you can keep up with. Get their promise in writing, a contract, that if you comply with your assumed obligations, they will not report the outstanding debt to credit bureaus.
  • If you already have medical debt on your name, learn more about disputing or removing them from your credit report.