Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in comments
Search in excerpt
Search in posts
Search in pages
Search in groups
Search in users
Search in forums
Filter by Custom Post Type
Filter by Categories
Featured
Health Care
Healthy Lifestyle
Income
Insurance
Investments
Personal Finance
Protection
Retirement
Taxes
Uncategorized
Your Financial Life
By Transamerica / Sep 15, 2015

7 Tips on How to Pay Off Medical Debt

15-5573_TA_BLOG_IMAGE_Medical_Debt-_What_to_Do_When_You_Have_Too_Much_of_It_DD_8.26.15

Medical bills can add up to be some of the largest expenses you’ll face in life. Quite easily, as well as quickly, the healthiest of individuals can find him or her saddled with medical debt. So what should you do if you suddenly find yourself awash in medical bills? Read the suggestions below to help you climb out of medical debt.

1. Double-check your billing.

A lot of components go into a medical bill. They are often detailed, and in some ways, can be confusing. First, make sure your medical bills are itemized, and then double-check the items to verify their accuracy. If you were given any sort of predetermination of what you would be charged before your medical procedure, use that to your benefit in case your final bill is more than you anticipated.

2. Negotiate what you owe.

In some cases, your medical provider may be open to negotiation regarding your medical bills. If so, go over your entire bill with your provider. Maybe they’ll give you a break on x-rays, lab work or any other items for which you were billed. If your provider can’t negotiate with you, try suggesting a payment plan in which you can pay a predetermined amount on a scheduled basis.

3. Check into what type of charitable programs your hospital may have.

Many hospitals, particularly nonprofit hospitals, have charity programs for individuals and families who are indigent or require special needs. If you or your loved ones fall into this category, look into any aid or discounted services that your hospital may offer to people who either can’t or have trouble paying their medical bills. Also ask if your hospital has a financial advisor or a patient advocate who can assist you with a resolution to your medical debt.

4. Use your emergency fund.

Whether or not you come to a compromise with your medical provider, you should have an emergency fund in place to help pay your medical expenses. Remember, an emergency fund can come from any source that you can easily access, such as a savings or checking account.

5. Don’t deny the issue.

Your debt can’t be willed or wished away. It’s a real issue that you will have to address sooner or later. This is especially true if your medical debt has gone to a collections agency. If your unpaid bills have gone to collections, immediately reach out to the collections agency and begin a dialogue with them. Even if you don’t get to the point of negotiating a payment program, at least you’re in touch with them, and have made them aware of your difficulties toward paying your expenses. Keep in mind that avoiding collections will only make matters worse, particularly for your credit score.

6. Get a little help from your family and friends.

Many people are aware of the potentially high cost of health care. Those may include your family and friends. By all means, do not feel embarrassed to tell your family and friends you’re having difficulty with your medical debt. Maybe they can help financially, or at least give you advice as to the best approach toward paying your medical bills. Just remember, because of privacy laws, your family members or friends will need written permission to discuss your situation with a hospital or health provider.

7. Look into credit counseling.

If your efforts at compromising with your medical provider are for naught, seek out credit counseling. Credit counseling can assist you by going through your outstanding bills and drafting up a payment plan. Check out the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies for a list of referred credit counselors who can advise you about how to approach your medical debt.

With the rising cost of health care, it’s easy to understand how medical bills can push someone to the brink of bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy, however, should be avoided as doing so can cause severe damage to your credit score. Instead, look into the above options to help you approach your medical debt in a constructive way. Remember, it’s always better to have an open dialogue, and if possible, a plan when dealing with any type of debt, medical included.

15-5573