It is challenging to deal with a medical emergency while bills and payments for the procedures may be even more overwhelming. While you are coping with recovery from a surgery or treatment, you still need to think about paying these expenses.
Health insurance doesn’t protect you from certain situations and unforeseen costs as it can’t cover all the expenses.
If a member of your family suffers from a heart attack or accidentally from off a ladder, the expenses of treatment may be astronomical. Almost every health insurance has a deductible and it increases each year.
However, you may be able to negotiate payments or lower the healthcare bills. Keep on reading to find out more about paying down medical debt and getting qualified financial assistance for medical needs.
Get Online Help Paying Medical Bills
While you may experience a sudden health problem that needs to be treated straight away, getting a terrifying hospital bill may be even more overwhelming.
“Medical debt is connected with health insurance,” states Kenneth Thorpe, the leader of the Department of Health Policy at Emory University, USA. “About 30 percent of patients between the ages of 27 and 45 are uninsured, so this is when medical debt starts to appear.”
And those who are insured may have deductibles that don’t cover all the payments and treatments. So they need financial help with medical bills.
Is there a perfect solution? Many people want to find out how to get help with medical bills while some of them decide to set the debt aside pretending it doesn’t exist.
This is a common mistake and you definitely need to tackle every bill you receive so that it doesn’t turn into a mountain of debt or gets assigned to the collection agency. If you need help paying medical bills applying for financial assistance may help. Keep on reading to find out several relevant strategies.
The recent Gallup poll and the West Health nonprofit organization claim that 45% of respondents are concerned that a major health event may lead them to bankruptcy as they aren’t sure their personal funds will be enough to cover a medical emergency.
Moreover, $88 billion was borrowed by Americans to cover urgent medical costs last year.
Understand What Happens When Bills Go Unpaid
The first thing to do when you have medical bills is to realize what may happen if you don’t pay them off. Setting the bills aside means you aren’t prepared to cover them right away but you will face bigger sums in the future.
The worst scenario is when a hospital waits for your payment for some time and sells unpaid bills to collections agencies. You can’t predict for sure how much time it will take until your bill goes to a collections agency as it depends on the location, hospital as well as health care provider.
Understanding your problem is the first step towards solving it. Negotiating the bill may also help paying it down as soon as possible and avoid bill collection. If you can’t afford to pay for treatments at once, your debt gets to the collections bureau, and your life will change for the worse.
You may receive frequent calls, text messages, and emails with requests to pay down your debt. More than that, this action will seriously affect your credit rating and the future ability to take out lending options. So, it’s better not to ignore the bills you already have.
Of course, you should know your rights even if you face collection. The collectors can’t lie to consumers, harass them, arrest or threaten them. Also, it’s forbidden to call the patients at night. You should check if the debt is really yours and there are no medical billing problems.
We will talk more about how to get help paying this debt. If you need financial assistance for paying down such debt try to negotiate it even with a collections service.
Check Your Medical Bills for Errors
How can patients who need help cover unpaid medical bills? Your next step is to check if the bill you obtain is correct and contains only the sums for the procedures you’ve been through. The reason for that is frequent mistakes and errors in such bills. Every patient may ask for an audit of the itemized statement to review the fees they have to pay. Sometimes hospitals ask for unpredicted charges that weren’t negotiated in advance.
The best option is to ask the healthcare provider or a hospital to let you have some time to review the bill. You may obtain up to 30 days while your account will be put on hold and it won’t be sent to the collection agency during this period.
If your insurance company didn’t cover certain procedures you may call them and ask for an explanation. Errors with medical billing may happen when the hospital charges twice for the same treatment or procedure (double-billing).
You should compare your medical records with what has been actually performed and what you see in the bill. If the information doesn’t match go ahead and contact the hospital.
A medical billing advocate may help you pay your medical bills by offering qualified assistance through this process and checking any mistakes for you.
How to Negotiate Your Medical Bills
The amount you pay each month to the provider for covering your risks is called care health insurance premiums. Hospital bills may be partially or fully covered by your insurance but in reality there are many deductibles.
If you checked the bills for errors and know everything is correct you may try to negotiate the payments, to reduce or eliminate your debt. Here are several tips to support you:
What Is Debt?
If you fail you repay existing bills and make on-time payments you will face debt. Medical debt comprises all the bills for the procedures, surgeries, and treatments you’ve gone through that you haven’t covered.
Not every package covers urgent care health insurance premiums, hospital may send your bills to the collections in case of default or non-payment. Paying medical bills can be tough but nonprofits and such hospitals should provide cheaper or even free assistance according to federal laws.
Bonus post: How to get out of debt with low income?
You should try to find out if you’re eligible for such programs. If the hospital you’ve turned to is for-profit, you should cover all the payments from your own pocket. At the same time, the law requires nonprofit hospitals to offer discounts and even free treatments to low-income holders.
Be prepared to provide pay stubs, necessary documents, and tax returns upon request to prove your monthly income. It may take some time but allow you to avoid paying the bills at all.
Search for Financial Assistance and Charity Programs
There are many assistance programs from the government and other organizations that offer financial protection and monetary support to low-income patients and people who can’t afford to cover all the payments and medical costs.
Depending on your location, the state you live in as well as your health condition and financial situation, you may qualify for one of these programs to pay your medical bills:
Look to a Loan as a Last Resort
Apart from the above-mentioned foundations and government programs, lending services may offer high interest loans. Getting a personal loan to pay for your medical expenses may take less time than applying for a program.
If you are not a low-income holder, you won’t be able to qualify for many programs and charity organizations.
However, it’s necessary to evaluate all the pros and cons of taking out debt to pay your medical services and hospital bills.
Financial medical expenses with a small loan may be beneficial in case your credit score is high enough. If you failed to repay the previous debt on time or missed several loan payments in the past, it may affect your ability to take out lending options.
You can qualify for care medical loans and patient support when you have steady employment and your credit history is decent.
How People Fall Into Medical Debt
There are three basic ways of falling into medical debt. Once you realize you have to deal with debt repayment you should learn how to get out of it as soon as possible.
Medical Debt and Your Credit Score
Not every person can cover bills from medical care and procedures.
According to Debt.org, over 137 million Americans have a medical debt and 28% of debt holder owe $10,000 and more. It can be a real burden for low-income patients and those who didn’t expect the high cost of treatment.
Even those who pay the insurance company aren’t fully protected from every emergency and still need to cover certain costs. Is there a solution if you aren’t ready to pay for medical bills? Can you get out a lending solution?
Some patients decide to apply for a loan or get a credit card while others just ignore the bills. It’s much better to repay the debt while it’s still in the hospital. If you fail to return the full amount of funds, your debt will be sent to collections. It can seriously affect your credit score. One debt in collections may lower your rating by 100 points.
Then it will take seven years to disappear from your credit report. Each of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) claimed to offer a 180-day waiting period for consumers to pay their medical bills. If you return the debt within this time frame it won’t ruin your rating and won’t be included in the credit report.
So, if you are ready to take action and solve your issues with paying medical debt off, a personal finance loan can be a good option. If you qualify for a loan with lower rates and better terms you will have a flexible repayment schedule with affordable rates. Medical billing can be expensive and getting a loan may support your needs and relieve this burden.
You may negotiate the repayment terms or discounts with the hospital and your health care provider but you may be rejected. If your credit rating is good enough you may be offered reasonable interest rates.
Consumers with poor credit score may be offered 36% in interest and higher depending on the amount they owe and their credit history. So, you should take some time to compare the rates of several lenders.
Medical Credit Card
This is another useful solution for consumers who can’t afford to pay down their medical debt right away. You shouldn’t check your credit report to apply for this credit card.
Borrowers with good and less-than-perfect credit scores might obtain this lending option to cover unpaid medical credit debt. However, this solution comes with relatively high interest rates so the total amount of your debt will be higher than the initial costs for hospital procedures.
You should be aware of credit card debt management and know all the features of your card. Some of them offer so-called deferred interest for a short period.
On the other hand, you need to be careful with such tricky offers as if you fail to repay the balance according to the repayment schedule, you will have to pay the interest rate on the whole balance including the sum you’ve paid down so far.
Credit Card with a Promotional APR
Getting this card may be beneficial for borrowers who owe a small sum to the hospital and want to lower the total amount. You can obtain a credit card with a 0% intro APR and pay down medical expenses provided that your credit rating is excellent or good.
Write down the end date when the intro period will end so that you don’t end up paying expensive rates and fees. If you owe a large sum to the health care provider you may want to try other solutions.
Medical Debt Consolidation: Is It a Good Idea?
When you have multiple bills from the hospitals it may sound reasonable to consolidate them into a comfortable payment plan. The costs assisted with medical bills can be high and taking out a separate loan or line of credit to consolidate it may be a good idea.
It means you will only have to make a single monthly payment instead of paying down several separate bills. If you have a medical bill, reduced payment may be faster to return.
If you have enough money in your emergency fund or savings account you may want to utilize those funds rather than request another loan to repay the existing debt. Saving money is essential as it may help you a lot in case of any emergency.
Hospital bills can be very expensive and debt consolidation may end up being even pricier in the long run. Hence, you should evaluate your options and check if the total cost will be worth it.
You may choose the most appropriate and affordable solution mentioned above. There are special programs, personal loans, credit cards, and other solutions tailored to the needs of the patients. Each person may select the best option to pay down medical debt.
If you are uninsured, you may qualify for special programs and charity organizations to obtain desired assistance. Government programs cover certain medical costs and procedures but you should check the available options in your state.
You may request a personal loan or a credit card to pay down medical debt. It can be more challenging to repay the debt that is already at the collection agency but you may negotiate and ask to lower the payment as well. Don’t ignore your bills and try to repay them on time so that your credit history isn’t damaged.
If you repay the current medical debt according to the repayment plan offered by your health care provider or hospital, it won’t appear on your credit report. Only if you fail to return the debt on time, it may be sent to the collections office and lead to credit damage.
For tax returns filed in 2021, consumers may deduct qualified medical costs that are over 7.5% of their 2020 adjusted gross income. Generally, you should only claim the medical costs deduction in case your itemized deductions are larger than your standard deduction.
If you don’t want to obtain a credit card or a personal loan to pay down medical costs, you may also turn to one of the charity organizations and government programs that support low-income consumers. Many patients who qualify for any of these programs receive free or cheap medical services. So you may not pay for certain procedures or treatments if you qualify.
If you want to avoid errors on your medical bills, you may want to review all the information in each bill yourself or hire a medical advocate. He or she will work on your behalf and check every bill if it includes relevant information and if there is no double billing or other mistakes.
Every government program has a website with details and eligibility criteria. If you are a low-income holder and need financial support you may obtain this assistance but it will take some time to review your application. Personal loans and credit cards are easier and faster to obtain but they come with interest rates and fees.
Insurance doesn’t cover all the medical costs so you may need to pay for certain treatments or procedures from your own pocket. If you don’t have enough savings or an emergency fund, qualifying for a lending solution or asking for financial aid from the state and federal government may solve your problem. Check various options and review what solution best fits your current needs.