A staggering 48 million Americans are paying back medical debt and medical-related expenses are the top cause of debt in the United States.
If you’re dealing with the unfortunate situation of healthcare debt, there are ways to manage with hospital and insurance billing and the stress that accumulates.
PAYING DOWN YOUR MEDICAL DEBT
- Budget the monthly amount you need to pay off your debt. Realize that you will need to have that money on hand, and plan in advance for it. Debt is temporary – you can always buy that new pair of shoes or go on that vacation later.
- Know your rights. If you are feeling intimated by billing or collections in regard to surgery, healthcare, or medical procedures, use that magic thing called the internet. Find your local advocates who are used to dealing with billing bureaucracy, and learn how to protect your rights.
- Read the details of your original bill, and of the bills you continue to receive. Hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers frequently make paperwork mistakes – and you’ll be left holding the bag. Make sure you are not being overbilled.
- Don’t ignore it. Much like a medical condition, not paying back debt only makes it worse… and you’ll be in for a world of pain later.
TALKING TO BILLING AND DEBT COLLECTORS
- Don’t be afraid! No matter how intimidating the person on the other end of the phone sounds, you’re both just playing roles. They are representing the institution trying to get as much money as they can from you, and you are the person trying to watch out for your own finances and protect your wallet.
- Be ready to negotiate. You can ask for lower rates, and for a repayment system that matches what you can pay. Before you call, have data on hand to defend your position.
- Ask about assistance, especially if you are on a fixed income, unemployed, or sporadically employed. Assistance programs are frequently offered.