Experts offer advice on how to save on health care bills during COVID-19 pandemic

How you can save money on your medical bills so you don't avoid a check-up? Even before the pandemic, nearly half of Americans delayed medical care due to cost concerns, a study found.

That same study said the majority of those people who delayed care dealt with a worsening condition.

"Almost 96% of people don't understand what the terms deductible, copay, coinsurance, out of pocket maximums, they don't understand what these terms mean. So it's really important to understand your insurance," advised Heather George, a health care solutions expert at Patientco Holdings LLC, which helps patients manage medical bills.

George said if you're having trouble paying health care bills, communicate immediately with your provider before bills are sent to a collector.

"Most patients wait until they received a second or a third or fourth bill, where their reported is past due before they reach out and communicate that they need help. The fact is if you wait that long the provider doesn't have very many options. They don't own that for a prolonged period of time," George said.

If you are currently out of work, you can ask your provider if you qualify for financial assistance.

"Lots of options available for charity here, or, you know, assistance. You want to ask them what you can enroll in, how you can enroll, whether you can do it online, what the qualifications are, if you don't have the ability to pay, or in any way, and you're very financially strapped, and the best bet is to ask for Charity Care Assistance and understand what that looks like," George said.

The federal CARES Act recently expanded the use of health savings and flexible spending accounts. Now, money in your HSA and FSA can be used in stores for more than you might realize.

"Historically, you went to your local grocery, merchant or your local pharmacy to pick up your prescription or pick up your over-the-counter medication that historically qualified for this. Now that's expanding," George said.

This may sound obvious but experts say sometimes people also forget to use their health savings account debit cards to pay bills that insurance didn't cover.

But experts say don't be afraid to use this if you need it, especially now, because that's what it's there for.
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