Few things are as frustrating as medical bills. After a serious illness, surgical procedure, or sudden hospital visit, the last thing you want to worry about is a creditor calling your home and asking for money…but that won’t stop them.
Understanding the State of Medical Debt
Medical debt is a serious problem in the United States. One in five adult Americans with insurance has encountered a problem with paying medical bills within the past year. Of those who are uninsured, 53 percent have struggled to cover the costs. An alarming 31 percent of insured Americans have taken money out of college, retirement, or long-term savings accounts to pay off medical bills over this same period of time.
Of those who face medical debt, 30 percent have incurred additional debt or financial hardship because of the bills. Women tend to experience medical debt more often than men (61 percent compared to 39 percent). And it’s not just the poor who can’t pay their bills. Of those carrying medical debt, 35 percent fall in the $50K to $99K income bracket.
4 Tips for Paying Off Your Medical Debt
Clearly, medical debt is a major problem in this country. If you’re among those saddled with debt, then you probably have questions regarding how you can best pay it off.
Here are some suggestions:
Negotiate With Providers
What many people don’t realize is that you can actually negotiate with the hospital, doctor, or collection agency that has your debt. Once a debt has been delinquent for a certain period of time, they know that it’s very unlikely they’ll ever see the full amount. And because they’re scared that it could be years before they get any money, many are willing to slash the price if you promise to pay immediately.
When negotiating, the key is to get everything in writing. Never take anyone at their word. Be firm and tell them that you only have a certain amount of cash on hand and they can take it or leave it. They may leave it, but you’re no worse off than you were before.
Crowdfund the Money
“To deal with mounting bills, people are turning to crowdfunding to offset healthcare costs,” Any Credit Personal Loans explains. “The most common reasons people list for launching crowdfunding campaigns are serious diseases and illnesses, such as cancer.”
If you quite literally have no money to pay off your debts, pursuing an alternative method like crowdfunding may work best. There’s virtually no risk and you could end up taking care of a big chunk of what you owe.
In some situations, loan consolidation makes sense. As the name suggests, this involves lumping all individual medical debts into one single loan. Not only does this help cut down on the number of payments you have to make, but it could also give you a more favorable interest rate.
Tighten Up Your Personal Budget
If you fall into a higher earning category – such as the 35 percent who make between $50K and $99K – then paying off your debt should be a reasonable proposition. It may not be fun, but you can do it. The solution is to tighten up your budget by removing superfluous expenses and cutting your lifestyle.
Don’t Ignore the Situation
Whatever you do, don’t ignore medical debt. While it’s tempting to just take the phone off the hook, toss the mail in the trash, and go on living your life, the fact of the matter is that the debt isn’t going away on its own. In fact, high interest rates mean the problem is only getting worse. Take a proactive stance and figure out a plan for attacking the debt at its source.