Suggestions for negotiating cancer-related expenses
Note: Sometimes you will be asked to fill out forms to apply for help
American Indians and Alaska Natives often fill in, "Indian Health Service or (IHS)" in the form on the line that asks about insurance coverage
The Indian Health Service is not insurance
If you write "IHS" in on any form that asks what insurance coverage you have, your requests for help will probably be turned down or denied
If IHS is the only way you get medical care, leave the line blank
Please keep these tips in mind as you start your search for help with paying medical bills:
Many hospitals and clinics have unadvertised services to help people find and apply for help with medical bills
When you get a medical bill that you cannot afford to pay:
Open the bill as soon as you receive it
Call the contact number on the bill
Tell them, "I received my bill and would like to speak to someone about my account"
Tell them, "I want to honor my financial responsibilities but I am struggling financially and physically with cancer right now"
Ask, "Do you offer any resources to help people with their medical bills?"
Ask, "Does the hospital (or clinic or doctor's office) have a social worker or financial office that can help me find ways to handle this bill?"
Write down the names and contact numbers of any resources they suggest and carefully follow through with each suggestion
Keep notes on each follow-up contact you make and keep your search organized
Ask, "Do you know of any way my overall bill can be reduced?"
Ask, "What is the lowest amount I can pay each month to keep my account in good standing?"
If you can't pay that amount tell the person, "I really can't manage that payment right now Is there any way that for the next year I could pay $____ or $_____on a monthly basis?" Ask if, for the next year, they could accept a payment of whatever you can manage, even if that is only $ 5 or $10 a month
For the next year do everything you can to send in that amount of money on your bill
Keep a record of the date and the amount of each payment
When a year is up and you have been sending in that small payment each month on time, they will be very likely to continue accepting that small amount without raising the cost of what you need to send each month
Keep in touch with the accounting office
Call and tell them how you have been following up on their suggestions and trying to get assistance to meet your expenses
Thank them for their patience, understanding and assistance in this difficult situation
Join Our Mailing List
Please enter your information below to recieve the latest news and updates from Native American Cancer Initiatives.
Please follow the link to make a donation to the Native American Cancer Initiatives.