Medical debt is no laughing matter. The deficit from availing medical services can be financially crippling. It can even hinder your retirement savings, your short term finances, or even your long term savings. That’s because you will end up taking money from your reserves to pay the bill. It is alarming to find that 80% of people who filed for medical debt bankruptcy were members of a medical scheme with low debt to pay off. Dealing with medical debt before it pushes you into bankruptcy is essential. Here’s how you can do it.
Don’t Ignore the Bills
Ignoring your bills won’t make them disappear. In fact, not attending to them will only make the situation worse. Medical providers tend to collect on your account for a couple of months before they go to a collection agency. In that case, you will not have room for negotiation or leniency. Once the bill reaches the collection agency, it goes on your credit report. This can damage your future borrowing prospects. In the worst-case scenario, your hospital can sue you for debt.
Have the Bill, Not the Explanation of Benefits
Sometimes you are stressing yourself out over nothing. Insurance companies send an explanation of benefits along with the details of the amount they have paid on your behalf. If you are not careful while reading the bill, the same amount may reflect there too. Also, Explanation of Benefits documents can give you some indication of what bill to expect, if any. If your Explanation of Benefits shows the insurance provider paying part of your bill, you will have to pay the other half. It’s probably on its way already.
Verify That The Item Is Not Covered
Errors do occur in medical billing as it is a very complicated process. It is crucial to ensure that the medical provider, doctor, or specialist you visit bills your health insurance company for the correct services. Perform follow-ups with the company to find out why they did not process the bill if they didn’t. If there are any mistakes, they check and rectify it. This can save you thousands of dollars.
Engage in Negotiation
It may come as a surprise for you to realize that medical service providers have prices that vary so widely that they are practically random. This means that you can negotiate a payment with your provider. The reason this happens is that the medical industry makes a lot of money by belling people for things knowing that people don’t understand the bill or do not check it. If your insurance doesn’t want to pay for the item, you probably won’t want to either, and you should negotiate. You will no be arguing with the doctor or specialist. Instead, you will be negotiating with a billing clerk.
Pay It off or Make the Arrangements
Smaller medical bills may be able to be paid off, especially if you have an emergency fund to count on. Write the check and mail it to the address stipulated on your medical bill. Include the account number on the check and keep proof of your payment. If you are not able to make the full payment, at least call the doctor’s office to set up a payment arrangement that is comfortable with you. This way, they won’t hand your bill to the collection agencies.
Put Your Bill on a Credit Card
While this is more of a last resort and far from an ideal solution, it is still way better than having your name blacklisted if the bill goes to the collection agency. If all else fails, put your medical bills on a credit card and pay it off from there. Choose the credit card carefully, looking at the interest rates, available credit, and whatever other possible features may come in handy. Don’t rush to sign you with medical credit cards offered by your medical service providers before looking at other credit providers.
Paying off your medical bills should be a priority, and while you may not realize it, having unpaid bills and unfinished business to deal with is an added stress and can nag on your mind even if you don’t consciously know it. Getting your medical debt cleared up as quickly and cleanly as possible is the goal, and you can achieve it by employing some of these methods. Quit procrastinating and get down to that bill!