It always seems like Americans have outrageous stories about medical bills costing more than most people can possibly afford—and that’s with insurance.

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What about for people without insurance?

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Dr. Jenaya Calderilla, a licensed physician, recently went viral after making a TikTok series showing people without insurance how they can negotiate their medical bills.

@doctor_jenaynay / TikTok

If going through your medical bills boggles your mind and stresses you out, maybe Dr. Calderilla’s videos can help you out.  

Dr. Calderilla, who has worked in hospitals, outpatient settings, hospice care, and rehabilitation, currently works as a wound care specialist. And she really wants to help people financially navigate the system by negotiating the cost of their bills.  

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Dr. Calderilla spoke with BuzzFeed and explained that “the best thing to do is be honest that you cannot afford the bill.”

“There are discounts for cash-pay patients. “You can always set up a payment plan to avoid being sent to collections and have it negatively reflected on your credit,” she added.

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Dr. Calderilla says you should always get an itemized breakdown of the bill and check to see if the charges are fair.

You can check out if your prices are reasonable for where you live by going to Look, medical professionals and office staff can get paperwork wrong. Make sure you look for your code and agree that it matches the service received. If it’s wrong, you can get it corrected. If it’s correct but still feels too expensive than comparable prices in your area, you can as the hospital to lower it to a “reasonable” and “customary” price.

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“It is always best to immediately handle the situation rather than ignore it and let it go to collections. There is also a grace period to apply for financial assistance programs, but if you ignore your medical bills, you will lose the opportunity,” Dr. Calderilla also noted.  

“It gets a little more complicated if you have insurance and a high deductible, which is another financial barrier to healthcare. Once you sign up with insurance (typically through your employer) and then use your insurance for medical services, you are obligated to pay your portion of the bill in accordance with the ‘explanation of benefits’ of your insurance. That is why these costs are non-negotiable.”  

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“Once I understood that one of the largest barriers to healthcare is the cost, I began to look into ways to make healthcare more affordable for everyone. Many people don’t know that some states did not expand their Medicaid, and despite the passing of the Affordable Care Act, not every state expanded the coverage. Unfortunately, there are millions of Americans still uninsured,” she said.  

“Many people receive medical bills and think there are no options. And, unfortunately, people have filed bankruptcy for medical costs they did not even owe in the first place. It is a very unfortunate consequence of the lack of public awareness about healthcare costs.”

Featured Image: TikTok

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*First Published: May 4, 2021, 10:19 am