Friday, August 27, 2021

How to Manage Medical Debt

Depending on your financial situation, you might be tempted to skip the medical care you need because of the cost of receiving it. But what do you do if you have already received care and have found you cannot afford the cost? It could damage your savings goals, lower your credit score, or even cause you to declare bankruptcy. The good news is that there are ways of making the care you received more affordable.

Finding Ways of Covering the Cost
There are plenty of ways to cover the cost of unexpected medical expenses. For example, you might look for ways of lowering your monthly expenses so you chip away at the bill a little bit at a time. By saving money in other areas, you can rework your budget to include a monthly contribution toward the balance. One way of lowering expenses in other areas is to refinance your existing student loans into a new loan with the help of a private lender. It is a great way to get a handle on your expenses since it can reduce the amount of interest you owe. It can also extend the loan term, giving you more time to pay it back.


If you want to negotiate the amount you owe, ask to speak with the medical billing manager of the provider. These mangers have enough authority to help lower the amount you owe. Don't wait until you are in collections or delinquent, since that can damage your credit score and make it less likely that the provider will be willing to negotiate. Instead, verify the accuracy and talk to someone as soon as you can tell. If you have financial hardship or have lost income, there is hardship assistance available to you. And depending on your savings and income level, you may be able to get charity care from the hospital. Depending on state laws in the area, the provider might be required to offer reduced cost care to those who do not have a lot of money available. If the cost of care has affected your ability to afford it, let them know that you need assistance.

Get Help Outside

Not everyone is familiar with the way medical billing works, so you will want to ensure you are not being taken advantage of. You might choose to get help from someone who has more experience in medical billing or debt negotiation. They could help you reduce the amount you owe if you aren’t having any luck negotiating. Seeking out help is a sneaky way to also change your health habits overall. Asking for help and knowing when you cannot go it alone are healthy habits for the mind that are just as important as those we build for the body. 

Advocating for Yourself

It is a good idea to speak up when you are looking for a significant discount on your medical bills. You might start with asking for a steeper discount. For example, you might ask if you can pay a chunk now and have them write off the rest. They could be willing to do this, so they don’t have to spend months or years chasing you down for the rest of the funds. You might not be able to go this route if you can’t afford to pay a chunk of the bill now. Instead, you could ask to make a down payment now in exchange for getting a discount. If that doesn’t work, you could ask if they could give you the same discounted rate that Medicaid or Medicare pays. Or you might ask for a zero-interest plan.

This is a guest blog entry.

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