Do you have an outstanding medical bill that you can’t afford to pay? You’re not alone! As of 2021, 50% of Americans had medical debt worth $140 billion.
Medical debt has been a persistent problem in the American healthcare system for a long time. No matter its size, an outstanding medical bill can be scary. Here are some ways to deal with medical bills that you cannot afford:
Ask For A Discount
Many healthcare facilities run welfare programs or offer discounts to people who can’t afford to pay full price for various medical procedures. See if you qualify for them. Even small discounts can significantly reduce your total bill if you’ve received extensive treatment.
Negotiate Your Bill
It may be surprising to many, but there’s often room for negotiation in your medical bills, especially when a healthcare facility is charging more than the average service cost in your area. Use the Healthcare Blue Book to determine how much you should actually be paying for various medical procedures. If you’re asked to pay more, negotiate your bill.
Request A Payment Plan
If you are unable to negotiate your medical bill or secure a discount, try requesting a payment plan. Several healthcare providers and facilities offer interest-free payment plans for patients who can’t afford lump sum payments.
This is a great option to pay your hefty medical bills without putting a strain on your finances. Most often than not, healthcare organizations that offer payment plans work out monthly installments individually for each patient according to their budget.
You may either be asked to pick an amount for the monthly installment yourself or provide your financial information. The hospital’s billing department will lay out a payment plan for you.
Get Financial Assistance From Outside
There are several non-profit organizations that help people with lower incomes to pay off their medical debts. Some offer assistance with specific disease treatments, such as CancerCare and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or to patients within a certain age group, like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, while others, like HealthWell Foundation, offer help to all patients who are unable to pay for their medical treatments.
Consider Getting A Medical Credit Card
Financial experts recommend strongly against putting your medical bills on a credit card. But if you have to, consider getting a medical credit card. Don’t just get any medical credit card, though.
Carefully evaluate your options and the policies of each card to determine if it’s the right choice for you and to find the best medical credit card. Many credit cards that are specifically designed to help people pay off their medical bills come with an interest-free period, which may span over six months to a year, or sometimes even up to two years.
However, if you have a medical bill that can’t be paid off during this period, you may become liable for a ‘deferred interest rate’ that can further increase your debt. Therefore, it’s highly important to do your research and consider your financial situation before getting a medical credit card.
Get A Personal Loan
When you’re unable to secure a discount or help of any sort and have to pay medical bills from your pocket, you may consider getting a personal loan. It isn’t the best option but can be utilized when nothing else seems to be working.
Consider Federal Health Insurance Program To Avoid Medical Debt in Future
If you’re 65 or older or meet the income requirements, you may apply for Medicare or Medicaid (respectively). While they won’t help pay off your existing debt, these federal health insurance programs can help avoid medical debts in the future. So, it’s worth evaluating your eligibility.