You might think that you are financially prepared for an emergency, but the reality is that sometimes unexpected factors will hit you harder than you think. This is especially true if we are talking about our healthcare. Even if you have decent savings and health insurance, one medical crisis could erase all of your bank savings and could lead to a massive increase in your overall debt.
Having medical debt is more common than you think. According to a recent study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly a quarter of Americans had problems paying their medical bills. What is more shocking is that it doesn’t just affect low income families, but it also families with mid and even high household incomes. To be able to avoid or get out of a medical debt, the first thing you need to do is calm down and take a deep breath. Once you stop panicking, it will be easier to solve all your problems. Following are five solutions that you should consider to help you overcome you medical debt, and focus your efforts on recovering your health or offering your support to those who need it.
Review Your Bill
If you have been confined in the hospital for a few weeks, chances are you are faced with thousands of dollars in medical bills. If you are in this situation, it is recommended that you consult an expert to help review your bill. When you receive your medical bill, check for any overcharges or fees for medications or services you haven’t used.
You can also ask a medical billing professional to inspect for services that may have never been given to you including duplicate charges and incorrect codes. Billing experts usually find errors that could save you a few hundred dollars. Even if the billing expert does not see any errors on your bill, they mostly likely won’t charge you with anything for their services.
Work Out a Deal
After checking the bill, and if you have not found any errors, you can try to reach out to your healthcare provider. If you can’t pay the full amount your medical bill, go to the hospital administrator and explain your situation to them in person. Show proof of your income and what you can pay at the moment. Ask them if they are willing to settle for a lower amount or if they can shift any of the costs to your insurance provider.
In a lot of cases, a letter is a great option that adds a personal touch which can make a huge difference in asking them to reduce your bill. A skillfully written letter includes your detailed information of your financial situation and other related challenging situations. Follow your letter with phone calls, and you can potentially expect a significant decrease of your balance.
If your healthcare provider is not willing to reduce your medical bill, ask them to create a payment plan for you. Payment plans allow you to pay in monthly installments rather than paying your bill all at once. They may even allow you to spread the repayment over a period of a few years which makes your huge medical debt become more manageable for your budget.
After constructing a payment plan that suit to your needs, make your medical debt payment as a priority after taking care of your basic necessities. The deal you made with your healthcare provider is more important than any credit card bill or car payments you might have. Administrators can be pretty compassionate when you are sincere and honest about your situation, and show genuine gratitude for the help they’re providing.
Take Out a Loan
If you are experiencing a financial crisis due to you medical bill, availing personal loans can be a good way to help you manage your medical debts without making use of credit cards with high interest rates. While you are still going to pay interests with a personal loan, the interest rates are significantly lower compared to a credit card.
But always remember that availing a personal loan is a huge financial obligation: if you miss payments for these loans, it can have severe consequences, not only because you can incur additional fees, and therefore increasing your debt, but also decreasing your credit score. Think carefully before availing loans and make sure you can manage your payments when you’re expected to pay them.
Read Your Insurance
You may be able to get a few reimbursements for certain medical expenses. Your healthcare provider and your insurance provider may have missed a few charges that your insurance policy covers. You should compare the codes on your medical bill with your insurance’s explanation of benefits to ensure there aren’t charges that you weren’t accountable for.
If there are charges your healthcare provider should pay, inform the hospital and your insurer in order to adjust your medical bill. Do not wait to file for an appeal; many insurance companies have a statute of limitations that only allows one to two months to make any sort of claims adjustment on your final bill. You will need some patience if you undergo the appeal process, as many insurance companies may try to give you the runaround when you question your medical bill.
Sign Up For Medical Credit Cards
If your healthcare provider still does not want to accept payment plans, they may go for medical credit cards. This type of credit card is made specifically to pay for medical procedures and most hospitals already have applications on hand. Most medical credit cards offer interest free periods of 6 to 12 months. Calculate your medical debt and if you can pay the debt within the period, there is no problem in availing it. If you cannot pay the bill within a year, you will be slapped with a higher interest rate that might make your debt a lot more difficult to bear. Medical credit cards can be useful but be careful in choosing this option if you want to avoid any extra charges. If you’re unsure about using a medical credit card, or you don’t qualify for conditions and payment periods that work for you, you should consider other options.
Remember What’s Important
Managing medical debts can be mentally, physically and financially stressful. In spite of this, don’t forget that during this time, focusing on your own health, or caring for your loved one while they recover, is the most important thing you need to do.
You might be tempted to opt for a quick fix on your medical debt, but doing so could cost you more interest and gradually lower your credit scores. Neglecting to pay your medical debt will send you on a delinquent debt timeline that could result in a lawsuit. Follow the guidelines we’ve discussed to significantly lessen the effect of your medical debt in the future. Just remember to take things one step at a time especially while you are still recovering your health.