This post should help several of you out (AngMichelle see PS at bottom.)
When I first moved back to my home town, I had COBRA insurance from my last job. That ran out pretty quick. Since I was pretty much disabled, I was working at a barely above minimum wage job. I had to quit that due to wear and tear on my bad back. I couldn't afford insurance, so I started at the Free Clinic. I got very sketchy treatment there, since the doctor of the day was whatever doctor in town had volunteered. No continuity of care. Plus, sitting around the waiting room with the alcoholics and crackheads really drove me up the wall.
Then I found out that there was a "REDUCED FEE" Clinic about a half mile away, which operates like a regular doctors office, so you can see the same doctor each time. Plus, they always take walk-ins, in case an emergency came up, they would fit you in to see a doctor. This office works on a sliding scale, based on your income or lack there of, and a few other factors. My co-pay there was $5, and if I had to go to a specialist or to the ER, there was an agreement that the clinic would pick up the bill. If I had to go some medical office that didn't have an agreement with the clinic, their financial office had a financial aid system that you filled the paperwork out for, and the doctor's office covered most of the cost. I have even been referred to some top of the line specialists by my clinic doctor, so I'm getting excellent care from this clinic.
When seeing a new doctor, I would check with the accounting department and see if there is some financial aid available, even on pre-existing charges. I don't think Doctors can refuse to see you on based on ability to pay, or at least they aren't supposed to. The ERs/or Urgent Care section of the ER can't turn you away, and always have a financial aid plan you can work with. I've really taken full advantage of this system, and have saved tens of thousands of dollars doing so.
I'm now officially on Social Security Disability, but my health problems are so extensive, I have to have an auxilliary insurance plan to augment the Medicare payments. I also had to add an extra prescription plan because my prescriptions are numerous and hideously expensive. The co-pay on several of my medications are $60 per month each, even with the insurance!!! One prescription alone would cost over $500 for once month's dosage, if I didn't have this insurance. These extra plans luckily are being paid by my parents, as well as the extra insurance premiums. I am luck to have them, or I wouldn't be able to take the drugs my doctors want me to take because of the cost.
If you want the best care you can get, and take off some of the financial pressure, see if you can find a reduced fee medical office, and contact the business office of every doctor that you owe money, and see if they don't have some financial aid available.
Hope this has been some help. This is what has worked for me. If all else fails, contact a credit couseling service(not for profit) and see if they can't negotiate down you debts.
Good Luck and let us know how you are doing.
PS - For AngMichelle
, ignore the credit agency(s) for the time being. Don't let them bully you. You are obviously willing to pay, as you are able. Your credit rating is going to take a hit, so just accept that, but you can limit the impact. Go back to the business offices of the doctors that have turned your accounts over to collections, and see if you can't make some kind of payment agreement with them. If you can get them to pull the accounts back form the collection agency, you can avoid a lot of the harassment. They may just send you billing statements with a jointly agreed upon monthly amount. Medical facilities are much less likely to report you to the credit reporting agencies than the Collection agencies. You might also be able to satisfy them if you set up an automatic bill payment through your bank. A smaller payment is satisfactory if the business office knows that the payment will be made automatically every month. Bill collectors make their money by beating it out of you, and who needs that hassle?!
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