In the United States, almost 67% of all bankruptcies are due to medical reasons, either because the injured party had to take an extended leave of absence or because the medical bills were too high to afford. If you’re left with medical bills you cannot pay, follow these steps.
Verify the Charges
Hospitals use a CDM charge master, which is a database that lists all items and services that a patient can be billed for. Medical coding systems are complex, and coders can sometimes mix one code with another, leaving you with an inaccurate charge. Look over your bills carefully for items that seem out of place. If you are not given a detailed summary of charges, always request one from your medical provider.
Don’t Use a Credit Card
You may be tempted to pay off your medical debt using a credit card, but doing that can create a negative cycle of paying high-interest payments that you can’t get out from under.
Ask for a Reduction
Hospitals will often reduce your bill if you pay the balance in full. If you have disposable cash and can afford a large lump sum, it will be in your best interest to ask the billing department if they have discount options to offer you.
Set Up a Payment Plan
Doctors and hospitals typically are willing to work with patients via payment plans. Most medical providers want to see that you are paying monthly, even if it’s a small amount. Note, however, that you usually need to set up these payment plans with the hospital or doctor’s office in order to avoid going to collections. When you talk to the billing department about setting up payment plans, they will often ask you to pay a monthly amount that is much higher than you can afford. Don’t be afraid to tell them what your limits are and to ask for a lower monthly amount.