The average American will actively do everything they can to avoid a trip to the hospital or the emergency room. The funny thing is that they are not hesitant to receive medical care…just the bill afterward.
Most Americans are so desperate to steer clear of medical debt that many people who need to go to the hospital are calling for Ubers instead of ambulances, opting to pay approximately ten dollars for a ride as opposed to spending one thousand dollars minimum (in addition to their actual hospital visit).
Such practices are not new, and these methods for reducing medical debt are often necessary to keep most Americans financially afloat.
Hospital bills for even relatively minor injuries, such as cuts that are barely deep enough to require stitches, tend to cost thousands of dollars, even if the injured person has decent health insurance.
Fortunately, there are a few different ways to find relief for medical debt.
Keep reading to discover these methods for yourself.
Relieving Medical Debt: Five Useful Options
If you are struggling with medical debt, the situation may feel dire, but it is not entirely hopeless. The debt can seem staggering, but it does not necessarily have to be. Here are five helpful methods for reducing the excess expenses that come with medical bills.
Establish a Payment Plan
One of the simplest ways to resolve a bill that cannot be paid in a single installment is to establish a payment plan. Most medical providers can work out a scheduled payment plan that breaks down the debt over several months until the total has been covered.
If you are uncertain if the medical provider would be willing to create a payment plan, there is no harm in asking. Be sure to inquire about billing fees or any additional charges associated with establishing a payment plan, as well. This will allow you to avoid being ambushed by extra costs.
Establish an Income-Driven Hardship Plan
You may qualify for an income-driven hardship plan if you have both a low income and a large amount of medical debt. Like payment plans, income-driven hardship plans break medical bills into smaller payments.
Unlike regular payment plans, an income-driven hardship plan can also potentially reduce the amount you owe. You may want to ask your medical provider about both types of plans. Please note that you may have to have or apply for Medicaid to qualify for an income-driven hardship plan.
Use a Medical Credit Card
Your medical provider may take medical credit cards if they are not willing to accept a payment plan. Some healthcare providers will carry applications for these cards in their offices. See more information here:
A medical credit card is designed specifically to cover medical expenses, and in some instances, they are used to pay for specific procedures, such as dental care or eye surgeries. Most of these cards have an interest-free period ranging from six to twelve months.
However, be wary of deferred interest. If you are unable to pay off your debt within the six to twelve month “interest-free” period, all of the interest that builds up during that time will accumulate and significantly inflate the amount you owe. Most credit cards, medical or otherwise, charge an average interest rate of 20%.
Hire a Medical Bill Advocate
If you are feeling especially overwhelmed by your medical debt, particularly if you were in the hospital for a lengthy amount of time and are facing a mountain of bills, you may want to hire a medical bill advocate.
These advocates negotiate on your behalf, and they are experts in reducing medical debt. Medical bill advocates know how to identify overcharges or errors. Do the math to determine whether hiring a medical bill advocate will ultimately save you money before hiring anyone.
Negotiate Costs Yourself
Lastly, if your medical debt has already gone to a collection and you feel capable of doing so, you might be able to negotiate your medical debt on your own.
Debt collectors have probably bought your debt for a ridiculously cheap amount, and this knowledge will give you leverage when you discuss reducing your bills with them.
You may also wish to do the work of a medical bill advocate and speak directly with your provider about lowering costs.
Examine your bills closely—even if the thought of looking at them again makes you anxious—to find any charges that appear to be too high or even incorrect. Consider combining this option with a payment plan to reduce your medical debt most effectively.
While medical debt is a nightmarish concept for most Americans, for some, it is an unpleasant reality. Excessive medical bills have the potential to rob many people of their finances before even taking overcharges or errors into account (despite insurance coverage, too, in many instances).
Thankfully, many tactics for avoiding or relieving medical debt are readily available via the internet and word of mouth these days. These methods make it so that getting strapped with medical bills for both planned and unplanned visits to medical providers does not have to be so overwhelming and financially destructive.
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