Major medical bills are a hefty expense. They can tank the most carefully-crafted budgets, sending savings accounts into the red without hesitation. Many times, medical procedures come along at unexpected moments when our wallets are already looking thin.
The pandemic and labor shortages have only compounded the issue, making it incredibly difficult to make a dent in your medical expenses. Aside from hiring a medical malpractice lawyer to help negate a botched procedure’s cost, you have a few options available for paying off your medical fees.
If you’re struggling to pay your mountainous medical bills, listen up. The following tips can help alleviate the pressure medical debt is piling on you. Know that only you can take the necessary steps to reduce medical debt, so let’s get proactive.
If an unexpected medical procedure pops up or you want to consolidate your existing medical bills, one option you have is a medical loan. Personal loans can range from $5,000 to $50,000 or more. It’s a good idea to shop around to find the right rate and loan amount that works within your budget and needs.
Compare interest rates and fees before settling on a loan that can help pay off your medical expenses.
Most healthcare providers–doctors, hospitals, dentists–are happy to work with patients when processing their outstanding medical bills. Payment plans with a provider are standard and one of the easiest ways to resolve unpaid medical bills.
Patients typically negotiate the terms of a payment plan with a medical professional’s billing department. The minimum amount due each month depends on the terms negotiated and the total amount of the bill.
Quick Tip: When negotiating with a billing department, ask if there are any associated charges or fees with the payment plan. If there are, ask if they can be deferred or if other, more inexpensive options are available.
Medical Credit Cards
Not all medical professionals accept payment plans, but some do offer medical credit cards. These specialty credit cards are available for specific medical procedures. Ask your healthcare provider if they have applications on hand or if you can apply online.
Most medical credit cards defer interest for the first six to 12 months. Your best bet is to pay off your medical expenses before the interest rate kicks in because when it does, it may make your payments unaffordable.
No-Interest Credit Card
Those ineligible for medical credit cards or payment plans may want to take a look at using zero-interest credit cards to pay their medical debt. The trick here is to pay off the expenses before the promotional interest rate is enacted. Once it does, you can expect the interest rate to skyrocket, along with your minimum payment amount.
Quick Tip: While using no-interest credit cards can certainly help pay off debt, you’ll likely need good to great credit to acquire one.
Income-Driven Hardship Plan
If your medical expenses drastically outweigh your income, ask your medical provider if they offer an income-driven hardship plan. Hardship plans break down payments into manageable chunks and may reduce the total cost of your bills. You will likely have to prove your income to qualify for this type of payment plan.
When unpaid medical bills go on your credit report, it’s time to act fast before your credit score takes a nosedive. Negotiating on your own carries some benefits like not having to pay a medical bill advocate’s fees.
So, try haggling with your healthcare provider’s collections department.
Since debt collectors buy debts for pennies on the dollar, you’ll have a fair amount of negotiating leverage when talking down the total cost. Also, see if you can pair another payment method like payment plans with your new total cost.
Quick Tip: When you talk down the price, you may have to pay in one lump sum to take advantage of the special offer.
Medical Bill Advocate
Medical procedures can be costly, and if you have an ongoing condition, these bills can stack up to the ceiling. One way to alleviate some of the pressure is to work with a medical bill advocate. Medical bill advocate groups will contact your healthcare provider’s billing department, negotiate on your behalf, and look for errors in medical coding to find you savings.
Quick Tip: Medical bill advocates have to make their money, too. Just make sure their fees don’t outweigh other options and are affordable.
Medical Malpractice Suit
Not all medical procedures go according to plan. Many, in fact, result in a patient sustaining an injury due to a healthcare provider’s error.unsplash
If you believe you’ve been the victim of a harmful medical mistake, you may have a legitimate medical malpractice suit. If you are successful in claiming medical malpractice, not only would you not pay for the medical procedure, you may receive compensation for your pain and suffering.
About the Author
Roni Davis is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area.