Last Friday evening, I got a text from one of my clients asking me to check my email. There I found the financial aid letter that reduced my client’s hospital bill from $30,000 to $7,000—saving them $23,000. I was so glad my client let me know—it was a great way for both of us to celebrate going into the weekend.  

And how did we get here? It was a true partnership. My client lives on a fixed income, so I outlined what we needed to do to be considered for financial aid. First of all, I needed the all-important HIPAA (health care privacy) release, which I emailed to my client who immediately signed, scanned it and sent it back to me. I then faxed this HIPAA release over to the hospital’s financial aid office, so I could speak on my client’s behalf. (Note: This takes about a week to get into most health care providers or insurance systems—so billing problems are never a quick fix!)

Then, the client stepped up and worked with me to get all their financial documentation and other paperwork I needed. On my side, I had their bill pulled out of collections. (Note: Once a bill goes to collections, all is not lost—it still might be possible to pull it the bill back into the provider’s accounts). Then I spoke to the hospital’s financial aid people to ensure that we dotted every “I” and crossed every “T” and that the application was perfect. From then on, it was weekly calls to check on the status of the application. This all took over a month, as financial aid/billing people are overwhelmed and it takes a while to get through their mountains of requests. Also, periodic calls help to be sure that the application doesn’t get lost in the piles of paperwork that stack up in those departments.

And in the end, it’s a win/win. The client now has a hospital bill that they can manage on a payment plan. And the hospital gets paid a reasonable amount for their services, instead of handing this over to a collections company and getting pennies on the dollar which would have resulted in just several hundred dollars for their medical services.

Now, before I launch into another week of advocating for my clients, I know that by asking these questions and sorting out health care billing issues, I can make a difference. And with wonderful clients who are willing to work in partnership with me? They will be right there with me—changing health care for the better.