Did you know that medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States? It’s true, and unfortunately, over two million people have experienced the crushing weight of their medical bills.
The cost of medical care continues to rise, along with the price of health insurance policies. What isn’t rising high enough to keep up are the average wages that Americans make.
This leads to more and more medical debt that makes life stressful. If you’ve found yourself in this position, we’re going to break down effective medical debt relief strategies so you can finally get free from your medical bills.
1. Negotiate Your Bills Down
The good news is that hospital bills can often be negotiated down to a lower price. In fact, the price of your initial bill is much higher than what insurance companies would actually have to pay.
The price the hospital is charging you is the “chargemaster” rate. However, you can ask for the price that insurance companies, Medicaid, or Medicare would pay, and ask for that instead.
Make it clear that you cannot afford to pay the chargemaster rate, and they will likely work with you to get a lower price.
2. Ask About Relief Programs
Many hospitals have financial assistance programs that offer medical debt relief. In fact, non-profit medical centers are required to have assistance programs.
The program may be called charity care, and you can call the hospital to ask about your options. Depending on your income, they may be able to forgive the medical debt altogether.
If your income is too high for the relief program, you can still try to negotiate your bill down using the tip above. When it comes to medical debt, persistence pays off.
If you don’t get the deal you need the first time you ask, keep calling back to negotiate a better price. The hospital wants the bill paid, so they will work with you if you keep asking.
3. Don’t Move the Debt to a Credit Card
As we said, the hospital wants the bill paid, so putting it on a credit card instead takes away their incentive to lower your bill. Plus, it racks up more interest on a credit card than it would at the hospital.
Credit cards may also have more strict payment due dates, whereas hospitals will work with you on a payment plan.
You should also keep in mind that medical debt is not detrimental to your credit score, and you shouldn’t prioritize it over your household bills. Don’t get into more financial trouble trying to pay off your medical debt right away.
Final Thoughts on Medical Debt Relief
To wrap up, remember that you can always negotiate your medical bills down to a lower price. You may even qualify for medical debt relief programs that your hospital offers.
If you need help, there are advocates who can work on your behalf to bring your medical bills down. For more financial tips and guides, check out the rest of the blog.