If you’re drowning in healthcare related debt, you’re going to want to read this article. In it, we go over how to pay off medical bills fast.
You were living your life and minding your own business…until you got sick. Now, you’re struggling to keep your head above water and not lose everything to medical debt.
You’re not alone – Americans are drowning in medical debt. In fact, medical bills are the single biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to pay off medical bills, keep reading to find out what you can do to restore your finances to full health.
1. Read the Details
First, you need to read the details.
Anytime you get something that seems to be a medical bill, sit down and read through every detail of what you received, especially if it’s for something complicated like a procedure requiring a hospital stay.
If needed, don’t be afraid to ask for an itemized bill so you can see where all the charges are coming from.
This might not seem huge, but it’s the best way for you to check for any potential billing errors, double billing, and unnecessary charges.
2. Do an Objective Budget Analysis
Once you know exactly what you owe, it’s time to do a budget analysis.
If you want to chart a plan for paying off your debts, you need to take a realistic look at your monthly income and expenses. If you understand exactly how you’re spending money, it’s much easier to figure out how to save money on everyday expenses.
For example, maybe you need to take medication as a result of the medical procedures that landed you in debt. You can’t stop taking the medication, but you can get smart about buying it.
If you’ve been stopping by your local pharmacy and buying medication without thinking twice about it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. If you live in Canada, for example, you can take a look at the price of Canada drugs online to find the best price possible.
3. Know Your Insurance Coverage
Most people don’t take the time to question their insurance coverage or inspect it too closely. That can get you in trouble with medical bills.
You see, sometimes health insurers misinterpret a bill and refuse to pay for something that’s actually covered by your policy.
In many cases, covered and non-covered expenses can be thrown together into one bill, especially when hospital visits are involved. For example, the doctor who did your surgery might be in-network, but the anesthesiologist might not.
Because of this, your provider might refuse to pay for something that should be covered under your policy.
So, before you see a huge bill and have a panic attack, talk to your insurance provider and review the specific details of your health insurance policy. Study your policy and compare it with your insurer’s explanation of benefits and call them if you spot any discrepancies.
Remember, you’re advocating for yourself, so don’t be shy.
4. Make Sure You Have a Bill
Before you jump down a rabbit hole, you should also make sure the document you received is actually a medical bill.
Read through your mail carefully to make sure it’s a balance due and not something else, like an explanation of benefits. Sometimes insurance companies send these to you to explain what they’ve paid for on your behalf.
So, before you panic, make sure to read the fine print. You may not actually owe any money.
If it turns out you do have a medical bill, it’s time to start negotiating.
Yes, you can negotiate with your healthcare provider, especially if you don’t have insurance. It makes more sense than you think – remember, uninsured patients are typically charged more than insured patients.
In fact, healthcare providers often have pricing structures so variable they’re almost completely random.
This involves talking to your provider, particularly the billing department. The fact is, most providers don’t want to send a patient to collections – they’re running a business, and sending you to collections just means it will take longer for them to get your money.
So, talk to your billing department about payment options. Be blunt about what you can afford on a monthly basis and ask what they can do to help you pay your bills within your monthly limits.
6. Consider Hiring a Professional
If all this seems scary, out of your wheelhouse, or just something you don’t have time for, consider hiring a professional to help you through the process.
It might seem counterintuitive to hire a lawyer when you’re already facing medical debt you can’t afford to pay. But if you can’t reach a resolution with your provider, a lawyer can help you decide whether a negotiated settlement or a bankruptcy is in your best interest.
7. Find Out If You’re Eligible for Financial Help
Before you abandon all hope, though, you should also determine whether you qualify for financial help.
If you’re living at or below the poverty line or don’t have insurance, talk to your doctor’s office about assistance programs. You may be eligible for an income-driven hardship plan, which can break your bill into smaller, more manageable chunks. Talk to your provider to see if they offer such a plan.
Keep in mind, though, you may need to apply for Medicaid before you’re considered eligible for such a plan.
8. Don’t Ignore the Bills
Above all, you cannot afford to ignore the bills.
Burying your head in the sand and pretending the bills don’t exist won’t make them go away. If anything, it will make your situation even worse.
Doctors and medical providers will only wait a few months on a bill before they send you to a collections agency. At that point, the failure to pay goes on your credit score, which will hurt your chances of borrowing money in the future.
You could even be sued for the debt, which could result in any number of ugly resolutions for you.
Figuring Out How to Pay Off Medical Bills?
Figuring out how to pay off medical bills can be terrifying, especially if you know you don’t have the money.
That doesn’t mean you need to face the situation alone. There are ways to get out from under medical debt and carry on your life.
For more tips, check out our blog for money ideas, like this post on how to get bad credit home loans.
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