If you live in America, you’ll know that medical care can be incredibly expensive. Even regular doctor or specialist visits can cost hundreds of dollars per appointment, and accidental or unexpected illness or injury can cost much more than that if you need to visit an emergency room or urgent care center. Additionally, if you are having a baby or dealing with the difficulties of a family member on hospice care, medical bills can stack up quickly and become overwhelming.
If you have a relatively small income, you might feel like these medical bills are taking over your entire life. And they can feel impossible to pay if you don’t have disposable income. But there are some solutions to lessen the burden. This post will discuss tips for paying these medical bills off, even if you have a small income. So, if you have significant stress surrounding medical bills, keep reading!
Why Are Medical Bills So Debilitating?
We do not have universal healthcare in the United States. And as a result, many people are forced to pay for their appointments and procedures out-of-pocket if they don’t have insurance. And even if you do have medical insurance, your copay might be pretty high depending on your specific plan.
If multiple health issues happen at once, you need major surgery or require expensive medication, those bills can become massive. If you have a tight budget, these expenses are exponentially more stressful.
Now we’ve discussed why medical bills can be so horrendously stressful for those on a tight budget. So let’s talk about some tips to help you pay down your medical debt faster, even when you have a low income.
Ask For Itemized Bills
The first step to paying off your medical bills is to reduce your expenses as much as possible. And one of the best ways to do this is by ensuring your medical bills are correct. One way to do this is to ask for an itemized bill.
Many people don’t do this, taking their medical bills at face value. By asking for an itemized bill, the hospital can review any potential billing mistakes or unauthorized charges. Additionally, you can ensure you’re only being charged for items not covered by your insurance. You will want to double-check your policy to verify this. For example, you may not need to pay for the Tylenol the nurse brought you if your health insurance policy already covers them.
Ask For Discounts and Negotiate the Payment Amount
Asking for a discount is a powerful thing. When asking hospitals to reduce the amount you have to pay, the absolute worst they can do is say no. Beyond that, you might get lucky! If you didn’t have insurance when you were treated, the chance of a discount is higher since you probably got billed at a higher rate. You may also have luck negotiating your total bill amount, especially if you can offer to pay in full for a reduced total. If none of these work, you can start to look into options for paying the total amount, but only if you cannot reduce it first.
Set Up A Payment Plan
Once you understand the full scope of your medical bills, the next step is to set up a payment plan with your hospital’s billing office. Many medical providers offer payment plans at interest-free rates to help low-income patients pay off their debt without it becoming completely debilitating. From there, your provider might work with you to determine a reasonable payment amount or use your income to determine a monthly payment. Whatever the case, you’ll be better off with an interest-free payment plan than trying to pay it all at once with credit cards.
Look Into Financial Assistance Programs
By contacting the hospital’s billing office or your medical provider directly, you can find out what financial assistance programs they may offer. In addition, financial assistance programs at nonprofit organizations are often available for those with a lower income or other financial hardships. Additionally, for-profit organizations that do not have these programs may be able to refer you to other grants or funds that can help you pay off your medical debt.
Research Medical Credit Cards
Medical credit cards are a real thing. They are one way to help pay your bills while moving the debt to another location. Medical credit cards will often let you pay off the lump sum of your accounts while offering a period of no interest, which could be as short as six months and as long as 24 months. This way, you can get the care you need without worrying about the bill immediately. Although this doesn’t make your bill any lower, it does give you more time to pay it without high-interest rates. However, be aware that some of these cards have incredibly high-interest rates once the grace period has passed. So you will want to pay them off as quickly as possible to avoid crushing credit card debt.
Research Personal Loans
Personal loans should be considered as more of a last resort than anything else, but they can be used to cover medical bills when the charges are excessive. Personal loans give you a lump sum to help you pay off your medical bills, but they often come alongside a higher interest rate and set loan periods. If you borrow too large of an amount and have a short repayment term, personal loans can set you back more than they help. However, they can be an excellent option to consider for some.
Medical Bill Advocates Can Help
If you have exhausted every possible option regarding reducing or paying off your medical bills, it is time to contact a medical bill advocate. These specialized agents work between a medical billing office and a patient to deduce a payment plan that works well for both parties. Medical bill advocates can also file billing appeals on your behalf if there are discrepancies or errors in your charges.
Find An Attorney
If there is no resolution to be found anywhere between you and your medical provider, it may be time to contact an attorney and discuss bankruptcy options or other financial options you may have. A lawyer will not only help the medical parties from suing you, but they will also help you determine whether you should file for bankruptcy or even enter into a settlement with the medical provider.
Can I Pay My Medical Debt On My Own?
Paying medical bills on your own is scary, especially if you just got a massive bill from your medical provider. However, the fact is that you have choices. Use this article as a guide to help test out all of your options, starting with asking for an itemized bill and/or asking for a discount. Something will undoubtedly show promise and help you pay down your debt.
Don’t Let Medical Bills Run Your Life
Medical bills might seem life-ruining, especially for those with a smaller income or with children who require financial assistance. However, like any other debt you might have, you shouldn’t let medical bills run your life and constantly run around your mind. You will eventually find a way to solve and alleviate these bills, even if it takes time. So explore your options and learn to manage your financial stress and worries. There are solutions.