Going through a health crisis or serious injury is bad enough. Dealing with the piles of medical bills that await you when you get home, though, is equally as bad. If you find yourself in thousands of dollars of debt after a health issue, you aren’t alone.
5 Tactics for Conquering Medical Debt
Nobody walks into a situation and says, “Hey, I sure would like to rack up some medical debt.” However, there’s often no way around it. Routine healthcare, medical procedures, and hospital stays can add up very quickly. Even with insurance, some situations can lead to thousands of dollars in medical debt that you’re responsible for.
If you find yourself facing medical debt at this very moment, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. Here are some tactics that can help:
- Get Legal Help
The first thing to think about is how your situation was brought about. Did you do something stupid and hurt yourself, or was your medical incident brought about by someone else’s actions? If it’s the latter situation, then you should get some legal help.
You might not be the sort of person who wants to get involved in a legal battle, but you could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills if they were brought on by someone else’s negligence – such as a car crash in which you were the victim.
- Check for Errors
Did you know that medical bills often contain major errors? “A surprisingly large proportion of medical bills contain clerical errors that result in overcharges – anywhere from 50 to 80 percent – depending on who you ask,” health writer Lacie Glover points out. “A recent NerdWallet analysis found that 49 percent of Medicare claims had errors, while medical billing advocates will tell you 80 percent of the claims they analyze have errors.”
You won’t know these errors exist if you don’t take the time to study your bills and look for inconsistencies. It only takes a few minutes to spot an error, so it’s worth checking.
- Negotiate and Haggle
Did you know that you can actually negotiate prices in many instances? Because they have to send so many bills to collection agencies, doctors, hospitals, and even health insurance companies are willing to negotiate directly with you, the patient. Be honest with them and tell them what you can afford to pay. Sometimes they’ll budge and other times they won’t.
- Consolidate Debt
If you have lots of bills, it may be worth your time to consolidate them into one large payment. The benefit of consolidating medical debt is that it removes the amount of paperwork, allows you to wrap your head around the total amount you owe, and could reduce the interest rate on the payments.
- Get Assistance
If you’re in a low income bracket or face other extenuating circumstances, you might qualify for assistance – either from the healthcare facility, or from a local charity or government assistance program. Do some research and see if any of these options are available to you.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
It’s easy to look at a pile of unpaid medical debt and wonder how you’ll ever get rid of it. And if you stare at it for too long, you’ll become overwhelmed and just give up – which is the worst thing you can do. Instead of letting yourself get to a stage of desperation, take things slowly and tackle one debt at a time – smallest to largest. This will give you small wins on the front end and keep you motivated to continue pushing through.