Even With Health Insurance, Medical Debt Can Be a Problem
We all know healthcare costs are on the rise. Even with health insurance, the cost of healthcare can be overwhelming and, in many cases, lead to hard-to-manage debt. It’s important to take a proactive role in you and your family’s healthcare by budgeting for your health expenses, choosing fair-priced care and reviewing your medical bills for errors. But then what?
Patients are being sent to collections faster and an increasing number of American families are filing for bankruptcy, a direct result of medical debt. 62% of bankruptcies in the US are due to unpaid medical bills. And greater than half of these are consumers are covered by health insurance!
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your medical bills or are having difficulty paying, you have some options.
Talk to the Hospital’s Financial Counselor There are financial assistance programs available for those who qualify. All hospitals have financial counselors who will review your bills and determine if a need-based discount can be applied.
To speak to a financial counselor, visit your site-of-care’s website. Hospitals will often list a phone number under ‘Billing’ information.
Remember, never be afraid to ask! Speaking with someone about your medical care and family’s finances can be hard, but financial counselors are there as a resource – your resource.
Set Up a Payment Plan Providers want to get paid for their services. Many times, they are willing to work with you to set up a payment plan. For some, paying off their medical bills over an extended period of time is more manageable. Again, the key is to ask! Be proactive and explore your options.
Negotiate a Discount In some cases, facilities or providers are willing to negotiate a discount in exchange for an immediate payment. For example, if you’re faced with a $1000 bill, your provider might be willing to accept $800 if you can pay the full $800 right away. Negotiations can be tricky, but there is no harm in trying. Speak to the billing department to figure out if they’re willing to negotiate.
Try and Avoid Using Credit Cards To avoid being sent to collections, some patients pay their medical bills using credit cards. It seems like a quick fix but with interest, patients end up paying much more than their original bills and spend years trying to climb out of credit card debt. At the end of the day, you are most qualified to make this decision for your family. Just remember to exhaust your other options first. Worried about medical debt? Comment below with any questions we can help you with.