Even if you have comprehensive health insurance coverage, you could still find yourself bogged down by a large amount of medical debt.

Rather than panic and assume that you have to pay all the money at once, there’s another option to consider: Negotiate medical debt with your provider.

Here are some tips to follow if you want to negotiate medical debt:

  • Don’t wait: If possible, negotiate a lower price of service before receiving treatment or undergoing a procedure. This gives you one less thing to worry about in the future.
  • Offer a lump sum of cash: Many health care providers are willing to offer a discount if you pay a lump sum of cash, on the spot. Not only does this save the provider money on credit card fees, but it also allows them to avoid the collection process.
  • Check for errors: Review your statement and explanation of benefits for both billing and medical coding errors. You may come across something, such as a mismatched medical code, that should result in a reduced bill. Also, keep an eye out for duplicate billing, as it’s more common than you may believe.
  • Negotiate payment terms: If your provider is insistent on you paying the full amount, don’t do so just yet. You can still negotiate, this time around focusing on the payment terms. Be clear about how much money you can pay, when you can pay it and how you plan to proceed. Also, if you’re facing serious financial trouble, don’t hesitate to let the provider know that you’re considering bankruptcy. This alone may be enough to secure better terms, as they realize that a bankruptcy filing could mean they receive nothing.

Don’t be shy about contacting your medical providers to negotiate your bills. Insurance companies successfully negotiate with providers, so you should feel comfortable taking the same approach.

If you take action but still find yourself buried in medical debt, learn more about bankruptcy and how it can improve your financial situation. It may be the best way to eliminate some or all of your medical bills, along with other forms of debt.