Medical bills usually aren’t a concern for most people – until they are; and they’re often much more expensive than expected.
Unlike most other types of debt, medical debt usually comes without warning and can leave you with enormous bills that could wipe out your savings and put you in debt for years to come.
Medical Debt and Your Credit Score
Will medical debt hurt your credit score? The short answer is, yes, but the good thing is that the three major credit bureaus (Equifax ®, Experian ® and TransUnion ®) no longer include medical debts on credit reports until they are 180 days overdue. This is compared to just 30 days for other types of debt such as credit cards. This grace period allows you time to examine your bills for inaccuracies and work out a strategy to pay off your debt.
After 180 days, your medical debts may show up on your report – but with the new FICO ® score ruling, they don’t have as much weight as other types of debt.
How to Handle Medical Bills
More than 40 million Americans today are having trouble with overdue medical bills. While medical debts can be a huge financial burden and emotionally taxing, there are ways to manage your debt.
Below are five ways you can manage your medical bill debt efficiently.
1. Check if Your Medical Bills are Accurate
After receiving your bill, sit down and check to see if it’s accurate. Look for possible overcharges, duplicate billing or charges on services that you didn’t receive. Medical bills can be difficult to understand, so if you find yourself confused, contact your hospital’s billing office and don’t think twice about asking for help.
2. Verify Items and Services Not Covered by Insurance
If you have an insurance policy, make sure to check up on services and procedures that your policy should cover. Follow up with your insurance company for services you noticed some discrepancies on and be proactive in disputing them.
3. Communicate and Negotiate
Talking about financial problems can be embarrassing for some people. However, this won’t help solve the problem – and it can actually make the situation worse.
If you’re having trouble with overwhelming medical bills, reach out to your medical provider and attempt to negotiate with them. Many hospitals offer financial assistance to help people burdened with medical care. Check to see if you meet their requirements to qualify, and if you don’t quality, your hospital may be able to put you on a more convenient payment plan.
4. Work Out a Payment Strategy
Develop a strategy on how you can pay down your debt faster. Check your budget, cut out some expenses and do research on other payment options you can use to deal with your debt more efficiently.
5. Deal with Your Medical Bills
Avoiding your medical bills will only cause you more trouble later on. Instead of avoiding it, do your best to pay it off as quickly as possible. Make payment arrangements promptly with your medical provider before they are able to transfer your debt to a collection agency.
If you are in serious trouble and simple cannot afford to pay your debt, consider settling your debt. Seek help from reputable companies who can provide you with expert advice to handle your debt based on your current situation.