According to a recent https://www.forbes.com report, the biggest reason for personal bankruptcy is medical expenses. It is also exacerbated by the lack of medical insurance, which has assumed serious proportions with around 15.5% of the American population left uncovered. However, even before you start examining the best ways of resolving your medical debt, you should first closely scrutinize your medical bill and make sure that all the entries are correct and accurate. If you have insurance, compare the bill with the explanation of benefits to figure out your liability and if the amount is really large, you can try to negotiate a reduction. Often, if you are not covered by insurance, service providers charge more than what they do to covered patients and this disparity represents an opportunity to reduce the amount of the bill. However, even after negotiating the reduction, if you find the amount unaffordable, here are some smart ways of tackling your debt:
Most medical service providers, including hospital, clinics, and even doctors are agreeable to work out a payment plan for patients who are not in a position to pay the entire bill at one shot. They will generally allow you to split the bill into equated monthly installments over a few months to enable you to pay the full amount. While many providers may not charge anything extra, be sure to ask because you could be charged fees for this facility that may have an impact on the affordability of the payment plan.
Medical Credit Cards
If either your provider cannot extend the facility of a payment plan or you find it to be unaffordable due to the short repayment period, you can inquire if they accept medical credit cards. Most service providers do accept them and even have the application forms at hand. Medical credit cards can be used for certain specified medical procedures and give the patient the flexibility of paying the debt off without any interest being charged for a period of six to twelve months. You need to be certain that you can pay off the amount within the interest-free period allowed to you as otherwise, typically, deferred interest rates can be levied. This is the normal APR of the credit card, which is typically very high and can make your medical debt significantly more expensive and difficult to pay off. Ask the card issuer for details, if you are unable to understand the impact of deferred interest on your medical debt.
Medical Bill Advocate
If you are facing a huge number of bills after an extended stay in the hospital, it can be quite difficult for you to spot any mistakes or incidents of overcharging in the bills. It is possible for you to engage the services of a medical bill advocate who are experts in the matter of deciphering medical bills and ensuring that all errors are spotted and set right by the service provider. Since they have detailed knowledge about the costs of various procedures, they can intervene on your behalf and negotiate with the service provider to reduce the billed amount that can be considered as excessive. Be sure to ask about the fees charged by the medical bill advocate to ensure that you stand to benefit even after signing up. If you would rather avoid the expense of a medical bill advocate that may be up to 30% of the amount saved or if your debts have already been turned over to a collection agent, you can choose to negotiate a reduction of the bill amount. When done aggressively, it is possible to negotiate for pennies on the dollar. To get a better idea about debt negotiation, read up on debt settlement reviews available online.
You can take a personal loan from a bank or a private lender to pay off your medical bills. However, unless you have a very good credit score, you are unlikely to get a rate of interest that is low enough to make it a very attractive proposition. Even as personal loans can get you relatively large amounts of money, you should ideally examine this option if you have been unsuccessful in getting your service provider to accept a payment plan or a medical credit card with a long enough interest-free period. The terms of personal loans can vary a lot from one lender to another, so if you are considering one be sure to shop around for the best offer.
A zero-percent balance transfer offer can also prove very useful in medical debt repayment. This works exactly like a medical credit card and offers you a period that may extend to as many as 24 months when you will not be charged any interest on the balance of your card. However, you will not only need a good credit score to become eligible for a promotional offer but also need to charge the medical bills on one of your existing cards and then sweep that balance to the new card. As tempting it may be to sweep other card dues to the new card, you should use the balance transfer card only for the medical expenses to prevent confusion about accounting for the tax deductions you are allowed.
Income-Driven Hardship Plan
If your medical bills are very high in comparison to your income, you may qualify for hardship assistance. There are some states that require hospitals to provide services either free or at reduced rates to patients with low income. You will generally have to produce evidence that your income is insufficient to make the payments in fullbut the effort may well be worth it. In addition to the amount being reduced, your service provider may offer a plan that allows you to make the payment over a few months. You may also be required to apply for Medicaid before being considered as eligible for a hardship plan.
Medical debt is a serious issue and while ill health, to a certain extent, is unavoidable, you must never ignore medical bills that are outstanding. Medical debt does not go away by itself but by taking quick action, you can reduce its impact to a large extent and lead a stress-free life.