Medical debt can be a big mountain to dig yourself out of.
Here are some tips.
There are some types of debt that stem from irresponsibility. In fact, most debt falls into this category in one way or another. However, other financial burdens are things that you just can't plan for, such as debt from medical expenses.
With so many people uninsured, this is becoming a bigger problem than ever.
The good news is that there are ways to reduce the amount that you owe and work with your health providers to make this a better situation.
How Should You Pay Medical Debt?Having outstanding debt hanging over your head is not a comfortable situation.
For many people, it seems like a good idea to get that taken care of right away. This is often done by charging the debt to a credit card. This is not a good idea, however, for several reasons.
Once you pay the doctor or hospital, they consider your debt to them paid and you can no longer ask for discounts or reductions.
Of course, regardless of the medical emergency, your credit card company isn't going to care enough to mitigate the bills.
Only pay with cash or the equivalent. It might take longer to eliminate the debt from medical bills, but you will still have negotiating options available.
Ask For a Cash Discount
It costs doctors and hospitals a huge chunk of money to deal with insurance claims. Frankly, it is a hassle and patients pay for it in increased costs for services and care.
Except in rare instances, almost all doctors will give a cash-pay discount. The clincher, however, is that you have to ask. This can cut as much as 5-10% off the top of your debt.
Do You Qualify for Help?
If you are uninsured or have a moderate to low income, always ask the hospital what programs may be available to reduce or eliminate your medical debt.
If you qualify for Medicaid, for example, the program will retroactively cover bills within a certain time frame.
Hospitals also have debt mitigation programs in place that you can inquire about. They won't tell you, however, unless you ask.
In addition, if you have been covered in the past, it's possible that you are still eligible under those programs. There may be a carry-over policy that you overlooked.
Check and Double Check
Insurance companies and billing departments are notorious for being overwhelmed and understaffed. Because of this, mistakes are constantly made. You never want to end up with medical debt that isn't legitimate so always double check every single bill and statement that comes through your door.
If you don't understand the bill, or disagree with the charges on it, get on the phone and argue your case. This won't completely eliminate your medical debt, but it can save you hundreds.
Medical debt is frustrating. You have to take care of emergency situations; during the heat of the trouble, you certainly aren't thinking about money.
However, the bills will roll in and you will have to figure out how to pay them.
It's nice to know that you can work with your medical creditors personally, as well as search out ways to reduce and eliminate the debt with other programs.
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