Even if you have high-quality, comprehensive health insurance, do not assume all your medical bills are completely covered. Depending on your situation, you could find yourself receiving one bill after the next.
If your medical debt mounts, it is critical to implement a plan for digging out.
While this is easier said than done, here are options that may work for you.
- Negotiate: If you are unable to pay a particular debt in full, negotiate with the provider to see if they’ll accept a lesser amount in order to get it off their books. For example, if you have a $500 bill but can only afford $300, offer to make one lump sum payment on the spot. This may be enough for the provider to bite, as they’d rather receive this money than take you to collections.
- Opt for a payment plan: This provides the opportunity to slowly eliminate debt over the course of several months or years. When doing this, talk to your provider about options, such as the interest rate and monthly payment.
- Be careful about using credit cards: While paying off a bill with a credit card might get the medical provider’s bill collector off your back, it now means you have higher-interest-rate debt. You are typically better off using a payment plan through the provider, as it allows you to avoid interest payments.
By taking one or more of these steps, you can eliminate some or all of your medical debt now and/or in the future. If you have so much debt that you don’t know what to do, perhaps with more on the way, it may be time to learn more about Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
For example, with Chapter 7, you typically can discharge medical debt, along with many other types of debt, such as credit cards. Understanding the process and what it entails will help you decide if it is the right decision for you.