Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcies in the United States, accounting for just over 62% of all reasons why someone might lose their money. Whether you are currently staring down a monolithic, itemized list of medical expenses, or just want to be proactive in your ability to handle your debts, here are several solutions and pieces of advice to manage medical debts.
An Arranged Payment Plan
One of the first approaches to medical bill relief can be implemented after you have requested an itemized bill and negotiated charges you disagree with. This step involves working with the relevant medical professionals and facilities to hammer out a payment plan that carries little to no interest and is widely considered the simplest, most efficient method for anyone unable to pay off everything at once.
Note that the plans will have minimum payments that are dependent upon your bill and
negotiated terms. The general policy breaks the bill into equal payments over several months, until such time that the bill has been paid in full. Be sure to check if there are any other billing charges or fees involved with such a payment plan.
A Medical Credit Card
Some providers may extend you the notion of a medical credit card, while the upside is that you can have up to a year without dealing with interest, there is the drawback of deferred interest making things considerably more costly if you do not pay everything off in time. Another problem with this method is that any missed or late payments will dent your credit score. Research the potential extra costs that deferred interest could hit you with and take that into account before deciding upon a medical credit card.
A Personal Loan
Loans for healthcare expenses can help you unify your medical costs or handle payment of
even emergency procedures, granting $1k-$100k. Consider this path one of the final options,
after considering a payment plan or credit card, because loans tend to have extra risks of
interest, fees, and lowering your credit score if you miss a payment. Remember to shop around for the best possible deal.
Normal Credit Card with 0% Interest
This sort of card might be an excellent choice if you cannot arrange a payment plan or medical credit card but it also means you need excellent credit. Always pay off your balance before the promotional period of zero interest ends because then you will have to handle interest. Note, you should only use this card for your medical bills if only to more easily track your expenses for tax and medical savings purposes.
Medical bill advocates are professionals with medical billing and can negotiate for your situation. This expertise means that they understand medical billing and what a given procedure should cost. Hiring an advocate greatly improves your chances to avoid billing errors and overcharges while also reducing the amount you may owe. Remember to weigh any fees charged by an advocate against the money hiring one would save before signing onto a payment plan.
Income-Based Hardship Plan
Individuals with low income and steep medical bills may qualify for a hardship plan. While it
sounds like a normal payment plan, hardship plans further divide the total owed into more
manageable payments, if not completely forgiving you of the debt. While you should review
these plans with your provider, know that every non-profit hospital provides some variety of
Negotiate On Your Own
If you are facing a collections department, you may be able to talk down the costs yourself. Debt collectors tend to buy debts for a fraction of the total owed, giving you plenty of leverage in negotiations. If you believe that haggling with your provider is an option, you can be your own medical bill advocate; look over your bills for any charges that seem wrong or excessive, then constantly follow up with customer service representatives.
Sky-high medical debts may block out the sun of hope but even the most disastrous of billing
scenarios has a few ways to be reduced. Look into payment plan options, credit card solutions, seeking a loan, haggling with debt collectors or even hiring a trained advocate to streamline what total you will finally pay.
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