When you have outstanding medical debt and little hope of paying it off in the near future, you may feel overwhelmed and frustrated. How do you settle your debt? What can you do? If you are feeling shame and guilt by your inability to pay your medical debt, it’s important to understand that it is not a personal failure.
The pain of getting sick or hurt can be compounded by the inevitable medical bills. If you are facing insurmountable medical debt, you’re not alone. Nearly one in five working-age Americans struggle with crippling medical debt. Ignoring your bills or procrastinating payment might be tempting. However, seeking a solution to manage your debt will help secure your long-term financial health.
Successfully manage your medical debt
Here are five steps you can take to enable your ability to pay your bills and maintain your credit:
- Don’t ignore your bills. Ignoring your bills can ultimately only make things worse. Billing agencies will often only collect on your account for 90 days before they send the bill to a collection agency.
- Verify your bill is correct. If you think there are egregious errors on your statement, ask the billing department for an explanation.
- Seek financial assistance. Demonstrate your financial need by providing information that confirms your income. You can ask about a no-interest payment plan or medical financing options. You may be surprised at the agency’s willingness to work with you.
- Negotiate a payment plan. Many medical providers accept mutually agreed upon payment plans. After all, it’s in the best interest of both parties. They avoid selling the bill to a debt collector (at a fraction of the price), while you prevent your bill from going to collections, which can result in negative effects to your credit score.
- Hire a medical bill advocate. It might sound counterintuitive to hire someone to advocate for you when you can’t pay your bills. However, a medical bill advocate may spot an error in your invoice or identify other options to help reduce your debt.
If you are stressed about how to manage and overcome your medical debts, try not to panic. Take things one step at a time. Choosing to be proactive in managing your bills can be the first step to alleviating the burden of debt.