The healthcare debate continues to rage on in the United States and is likely to become only more heated as the 2020 election approaches. The reasons why this topic is such a hot button issue are obvious — failure to pay medical bills is the biggest reason American families go broke.
But while the debate rages on, you might be facing more immediate concerns. An accumulation of medical debt can be hard to overcome, and terrifying if you can’t pay when it is due.
What can you do in this difficult situation? If you can’t pay medical bills, read on. We’ll walk you through a few steps you can take to help handle the situation.
Make Sure There Are No Mistakes
So many Americans struggle to pay for medical bills. It’s certainly not a personal failure when the time comes and you don’t have the money you need.
One easy place to cut costs is to notice any errors in your medical bill if they exist. While this may sound like a lark, errors in medical billing are actually quite common.
When you receive the bill from your insurance company, scan the different areas. Ensure that you aren’t being charged for the same service twice, look for charges you don’t recognize, and identify areas you’re being charged for that should fall under insurance.
If there is anything you don’t understand on your bill, it’s essential that you contact your insurance company or medical care provider and ask for clarification. Even if it ends up not being an error, you’ll at least be fully in-the-know about what you’re being charged for.
See If You Qualify for Assistance Programs
If your bill is fully accurate, there are other steps you can still take. Many hospitals and healthcare providers offer programs for low-income households. You may eligible for the programs they provide, which can help lower costs or break them down over much longer periods of time.
Some hospitals are even required by law to provide assistance to patients who can’t afford to pay their bills. You should make sure to look into what kind of services your current healthcare provider offers.
You also may be available for government assistance in the form of Medicaid. Criteria for this program varies from state to state, so you might need to look into your more local details.
If you are eligible and sign up for Medicaid, the program can help you pay off all medical bills in your name. That means even those bills that originated from before you time signing up.
Negotiate Your Bills Down
Many people don’t realize this, but the price you see on your medical bill isn’t necessarily set in stone. There is room to negotiate the given price. You’ll just need to do your research.
Compare the price you are being charged to the standard price given by other healthcare providers. Do research on what the services you are receiving are generally billed at. If the price you are being charged is considerably more, try to argue down to that other price.
You can also take a few aggressive negotiation tactics if you’re feeling bold. For example, you could offer to pay a percentage of the total costs (40%, let’s say) upfront if they were willing to waive the rest.
Some hospitals will actually take this deal, as it saves them time and money to take the money now instead of chasing you down for years and years.
You can also ask for smaller discounts or attempt to get on a payment plan that has a zero percent interest rate. No ask is too big or small if it means helping you pay off the large sum that most medical bills request.
Borrow Money from an Outside Source
You can’t always do things on your own, and this is certainly true in the case of medical bills. Whether you need money for an upfront negotiation or simply to help pay off this month’s fees, borrowing can be a good way to go.
Borrowing money from close family and friends might be preferable, as there will be no interest rate when paying the money back. But it also might be difficult to involve loved ones in such an exchange.
Many people in the modern era also create GoFundMe pages to help cover medical costs. These pages are crowdfunding hubs where friends, families, and kind strangers can contribute a little extra spare change they may have towards your outstanding bills.
Medical loans are yet another route. If you need to borrow money to pay off your bills, there are plenty of money lenders willing to help. Many of these lenders won’t even require you to have a pristine credit score in order to borrow.
In any of these instances, it’s important that you understand what you’re getting into when borrowing money. Facing medical bills can be quite difficult, but you don’t want to make matters worse by digging yourself deeper in a long-term money hole.
If you know you can responsibly pay back the money, borrowing can be a great way to get some of your medical costs out of the way fast.
If You Can’t Pay Medical Bills
There’s nothing more terrifying than looking down the barrel of a medical bill that you can’t afford. The above tips can help out if you can’t pay medical bills. While they won’t get rid of your bills completely, they can help make them at least slightly easier to work through.
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