Get tips for paying off medical debts.
When you are overwhelmed with medical debts and bills, be pro-active in dealing with them. There are steps you can take, some on your own and others using outside parties. Here are some of the top tips in how to pay off and eliminate your medical debts.
1. Medical debt is not usually reported on your credit reports. This is not a very well known fact. According to two of the top credit reporting agencies (TransUnion and Experian) they report that doctors, hospitals and other health care providers will rarely report medical bill payment information to the bureaus. Accounts reported by hospitals and others in the medical businesses account for only .07 percent of their data. So the fact that the information is not being provided to the reporting agencies provides more flexibility to the patient.
According to TransUnion, medical debts are not typically reported to them unless they become very delinquent and are assigned to some type of collection agency. Compare that to your other household bills and monthly payments on lines of credit, credit cards and installment loans which are all reported to the credit bureaus immediately. So when it comes down to it, if you have to pay a bill late, not paying a medical debt on time will have less of an impact to your credit scores.
The hit to a consumers score will be either minimized or there may be no impact at all. So this is much better than missing a payment on a credit card or other types of debt. Also, agreeing to a payment plan with the health care provider may be a better option for you if you tend to be concerned about medical debt or bills lowering your credit ratings.
2. Settle your medical debts. If may be possible to settle your unpaid medical debts for pennies on the dollar. Or even if that type of deal is not arrived at than maybe a small portion of the balance can be waived. This is possible for a few reasons. They include :
- Hospitals and medical providers already offer insurance companies discounted and pre-negotiated rates, so these health care companies do not expect to receive 100% of a bill from a consumer. An always effective tip is to ask about a payment plan, and read more on that below.
- Also, if a consumer does not pay a bill, most medical providers will outsource the collection to a third party debt collector. When they do this they will often get pennies on the dollar (less than 10%) from the collection agencies. So if you agree to settle with the hospital or doctor before they involve an outside party, they will usually be very willing to work with you and offer you decent terms.
Those are a couple tips for how to settle a debt. But there are other tactics as well. Learn more on medical debt settlement.
3. Look into a debt payment plan. If you are one of the many people who cannot pay the entire outstanding medical debt at once or if you can’t adhere to a fixed monthly plan, then you need to work out a payment plan with the hospital, doctor or medical provider. Some of those health care professional will even agree to charge you no interest.
If you follow this tip, then be sure to make sure the plan agreed to is realistic and that it is based on your ability to pay it on time and every month. It is critical to pay on time and stick to the plan. If your financial situation changes, communicate with the medical provider immediately and try to negotiate a different or new payment plan. Also, always get all of the terms and conditions in writing by asking the doctor or hospital to send you a written notice or confirmation so there is proof of the agreed upon plan.
4. Negotiate. This is a very effective tip when trying to pay off medical debts and bills. It is very possible to get a portion of the debt waived or reduced, or maybe the interest rate changed. A hospital bill will often include such items for surgery, medications, anesthesiology, X-rays and a host of other expenses. Many of them are billed separately, and often by different doctors. Contact information for each provider be included on the bill. You should try to talk to the medical service providers to see if they will reduce their fees in any way, which will make your payment more manageable. Find tips to negotiate medical bills.
5. Charity programs can eliminate debts. Most hospitals across the country, in particular nonprofit hospitals, provide patients with charity care or other financial aid programs that will pay for all or most of the health care expense. This options is normally for people who are low income, struggling, the indigent or those families with special needs.
While some providers may restrict such assistance to the underinsured or uninsured, or they may only offer discounted services to the insured who have very limited incomes, it is always worth your time to look into these programs. This is another one of the top tips as many of these programs are not well known, and medical bill negotiators will always complain that the availability of these assistance and charity programs is often poorly publicized in hospitals. It is usually up to the patient to often ask about them and they also must actively seek them out. Never be embarrassed to ask for help or about the charity care. As much as they don’t publicize them, hospitals employ patient advocates and financial counselors to provide this service.
6. Medical billing advocates. They work on behalf of the patient and provide a variety of services. They will review a bill for errors on it, negotiate bills and medical debts, and they offer a variety of other services. Many people do not know that most of these advocates work on a continent basis, so one tip is that you do not need to pay them unless they save you money. Or they may only charge a client if they help pay off your medical debts. Learn more on medical billing advocates.
7. Review for billing errors and accurate billing. Always be sure to review the medical bill. Medical as well as hospital bills will often arrive several weeks after your visit, they may be several pages long, and they are known to have errors. In fact, almost 90% of medical bills may have errors.
Review each charge and line item. Are they accurate? Were you billed properly? Another important tip is to discuss and resolve any billing disputes before paying the invoice and before putting the expense on a credit card or loan installment. Read about ways to detect medical billing errors.
8. State, federal, and local assistance programs. Your state or local government, as well as the federal government, may have offer assistance programs that can help offset or pay for medical costs as well as any related debts. Contact your city, county or state government representative, charity, or community organizations to see what programs exist. More.
9. Denial of medical service. A hospital, doctor, or medical provider may sometimes ask you to pay off all or some of your medical debts before you can make another appointment. They may want the account paid in full before they deal with a health care issue. Note that this may not always be legal, so keep that tip in mind. However it is less likely to occur if you have been in communication with them, trying to pay your bills, and have stayed in touch with them and followed through on repayment plans in the past.
In addition, if you have a long relationship with the doctor or medical provider, you should ask to speak to directly to him or her directly to state your case to try to get your appointment. Always remember that by law, if you experience a medical emergency, a hospital needs to treat you regardless of your ability to pay and can’t turn you away.