Checking your mail each day can often be an unpleasant experience when you are anticipating yet another bill that needs to be paid. If you have visited a hospital recently, your blood pressure may rise when you see that hospital bill arrive in the mailbox. The truth is medical debt is one of the largest sources of debt for Americans. Poor healthcare coverage and a lack of government funded medical programs have many people drowning in medical debt.
Many people find it hard to pay off such large costs associated with receiving medical treatment. Even worse, the phone calls from the hospital billing department attempting to collect on the debt can become overwhelming. Having experienced a need for medical treatment, the last thing on anyone’s mind is how they will pay for the services. There are a few ways you can prevent your stress level from rising by managing your medical debt.
The Road to Financial Health
Hospitals and medical providers are often willing to work with patients to develop a payment plan. People are often surprised when they call their provider and find out they can make affordable payments over several months. The biggest mistake people make is not calling their provider to discuss payment options. Most medical providers do not send late or delinquent payments to a collection agency until multiple attempts have been made to contact the debtor. Once a collection agency gets involved, you can almost bet your credit rating has been affected. To prevent your credit from being affected, contact your creditor immediately upon receipt of the bill and try to negotiate a payment plan. Often, providers will allow you to pay over several months, at a rate that is affordable to you, as long as you are paying something on the account each month.
Another mistake people make when trying to manage their medical debt is paying the balance using a credit card. Paying off medical debt with a credit card is guaranteed to cost you more money in the long run due to interest payments. Many providers allow you to negotiate a payment plan, where you can make payment s with no interest added to the amount owed. If you owe an amount that can be reasonably paid off in a year or less, paying the balance with a credit card is a poor choice. People that have significant medical bills that could take years to pay off, should consider contacting Medicaid to determine if they qualify for assistance. Another option is to seek advice from a reputable credit counseling agency to evaluate all of the debt management options available.