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Financial help and negotiations for unaffordable medical bills
Medical debt is a big problem for many people. These bills can cause a lot of hardships when you can’t afford to pay them. At some point, all of us have had to deal or negotiate medical bills.
Losing a job along with your health care insurance is the top reason why people go into high medical debts.
You got a mail from your insurance or a collection agency telling you to pay medical bills out of pocket.
It may be for a minor or a major surgery or an emergency visit to the hospital that is not covered completely by insurance.
Your financial situation doesn’t allow you to pay this medical bills entirely or at all. So, you’re wondering if there are actions you can take to payoff this debt.
You should never just ignore a medical bill that is past due. This can hurt your credit for the long term.
There are several ways you can deal with unaffordable medical bills. Here are a few alternatives, including medical bill forgiveness and financial aid.
Review your Medical Bills for Accuracy
Medical bills are full of codes and lingo not readily understood by non-medical professionals. Still, you want to review your bills to make sure the charges are all legitimate.
Obtain a copy of your bills detailing all charges, this comes from the doctor or hospital. Go over this list, noting if there are services you didn’t receive.
Make sure you’re not being double charged for the same services on the same dates.
Ask questions if you don’t understand any medical charges on your bill.
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Obtain your Insurance Statement
Verify the amounts on the medical bills that has been paid or covered by your health insurance.
Get the details from your health insurance company. These are usually shown on the insurance statement.
Review the items paid by the insurer. Obviously, if an item was paid by the insurer, it shouldn’t be charged to you at the same time by the doctor or hospital.
Once you have a clear picture of what’s owed, then you can start taking steps to negotiate and to get help paying the bills.
Negotiate your Medical Bills
Start thinking on how to negotiate your bills. Here are some options to lower your medical bills without negatively impacting your credit.
How aggressive you want to be on lowing your medical bills depends on your situation.
For example, if you’re broke or experiencing financial hardships you want to ask for large discounts. However, if you are not in financial distress you can ask for a payment plan of the current bill’s amount.
Your medical provider will assess your ability to pay based on your current income and other factors. These are some of the documentation you may have to provide to argue your case.
- Copy of your Layoff notification
- Statement of unemployment pay
- Copy of Paychecks
- Description of illnesses or hardships – for example a disability condition.
Options for negotiating
- Negotiate a monthly payment plan. Most hospitals and medical providers will help you set up a payment plan without interest charges.
- Ask for a debt reduction plan – Some medical providers will discount your bills. Depending on your ability to pay and on the provider’s willingness to settle, this discount can be sizable.
- Avoid getting into a new loan – You should try to avoid a new loan to pay for medical bills. If you’re having money problems, a new loan will only increase your financial burden.
Look for Financial Assistance from Hospital
Some hospitals have financial aid departments ready to assist when you can’t pay your bills.
This office will help you identify resources and options to pay for your medical debt.
The financial assistance may come from the hospital, a government agency or a non-profit agency.
The help you can get here depends on your situation and ability to pay. So, be ready to provide verifiable hardships and proof of your income and expenses.
Search Financial Help from Non-Profit Organizations
There are dedicated non profit organizations providing direct aid for medical and hospital bills. These are based on the patients needs, primarily. These organizations are funded mainly from donations.
These non-profits help the non insured and under insured to pay for medical debt and also for screening services. Some of these assist with any kind of medical bills. Others are dedicated to specific needs, such as those with Cancer, Heart disease etc.
Here are some organizations that help pay for medical bills. To apply visit the organization website.
NeedyMeds – Is a database of resources and programs to help patients in financial needs. You can find resources to pay medical bills and also clinics to get medical screening.
HealthWell Foundation – This non profit helps with co-pay, deductibles, premiums and other medical expenses.
It has dedicated Disease funds to help patients with medical expenses. The financial assistance is based on needs. If your illness is covered by one of the funds, you may apply for financial help.
RX Assist – This organization offers resources to help patients ay for the costs of medications. It’s a database of Patients Assistance Programs thru out the United States.
Financial assistance for Cancer patients – There are organizations helping Cancer patients with financial assistance.
These include Catholic Charities USA, United Way and Cancer & Recovery Foundation Women’s Cancer Funds.
Use your Health Savings Accounts
You may have been contributing to a Health or Flexible Spending Saving account with your employer. If you have tax-free money in one of these accounts, you may use it to pay for medical bills.
Usually, you just have to submit your bills to the plan administrator at your job.
It’s better to negotiate your medical bills with your providers before these are turn over to a collection agency.
By the time debt collectors are involved your credit score and history may have suffered.
If negotiations failed, look for other options to pay your medical bills. Financial assistance from hospitals and not for profit organizations are choices if you’re in hardships.
Did you settled your bill? Make sure you get written statement as to the new terms of your medical debt. Whether it’s a discharge of your debt partially or complete or a new payment plan, get it in writing.
6 Ways to Deal with Medical Bills You Can’t Afford
- Review your Bill for accuracy
- Obtain your Insurance statement
- Negotiate your medical bills
- Look for financial assistance from hospital
- Search for assistance from non-profits
- Use your Health or Flexible spending Account