Most people don't worry about medical bills - until they do. This is because medical bills usually come without warning and they’re often much more expensive than expected. This can wipe out years of hard-earned savings and lead to overwhelming debt. You can avoid ballooning medical debt by staying informed and keeping track of your bills.
Medical Debt and Credit Score
Will medical debt hurt your credit score? The short answer is, yes. But the good thing is that the major credit bureaus no longer include medical debts on credit reports immediately. Equifax®, Experian ®, and TransUnion® all give a 180 day grace period. This grace period allows you time to examine your bills for inaccuracies and work out a strategy to manage your debt.
How to Handle Medical Debt
More than 40% of Americans struggle with overdue medical bills. While medical bills can be a huge financial burden and emotionally taxing, you can avoid being overwhelmed. Below are five ways you can manage your medical bill debt efficiently:
1. Check medical bills for accuracy
After receiving your bill, check to see if it’s accurate. Look for overcharges, duplicate billing, or charges on services that you didn’t receive. Medical bills can be difficult to understand. If you find yourself confused, contact your hospital’s billing office, and ask for help.
2. Verify health insurance coverage
If you have health insurance, make sure you understand the services and procedures that your policy covers. Follow up with your insurance company if you notice discrepancies, and be proactive in disputing them.
3. Negotiate with medical providers
If you have overwhelming medical bills, reach out to your medical provider, and negotiate. Many hospitals offer financial assistance to help people burdened with medical care. Check to see if you meet their requirements to qualify. Even if you don’t quality, your hospital may be able to put you on a more convenient payment plan.
4. Work on a payment strategy
Develop a strategy on how you can pay down debt faster. Create a budget, cut expenses, and research payment options.
5. Deal with your medical bills
Ignoring your medical bills will only cause you more trouble later on. Instead of avoiding your debt, do your best to pay it off as quickly as possible. Make payment arrangements as soon as possible. Do this before your medical provider has time to transfer your debt to a collection agency.
If you are in serious trouble and simple cannot afford to pay your debt, consider professional help from financial professionals. Seek help from reputable debt solution providers, who can provide you with expert advice to handle your debt.