Health problems may affect the patient’s quality of life adversely. Unmanageable medical bills add to the stress of the patient. But, under certain circumstances, you can get some reduction in hospital bills, or at least a part of the debt is forgiven. Contacting your hospital’s billing department is the easiest option to request medical debt forgiveness. They will tell you whether you can qualify for any debt-reducing strategies like financial aid programs or discounts on your medical bill.
If you receive a hospital bill that you cannot afford to pay, it is normal to get stressed. But don’t worry, you are not alone. 1 in 5 Americans reported difficulty paying medical bills.
Hospitals provide facilities to patients who are not able to pay the entire bill on their own. They offer several programs to reduce medical costs. These include discounts for paying upfront and interest-free payment plans. Some hospitals also provide financial help for patients who are not insured or underinsured.
Here are a few steps that you can take to get medical bills reduced or even forgiven.
Look for Financial Assistance Policies.
Many people struggle to pay their medical bills. We need to figure out what to do about them.
It is highly advisable to call the hospital and see if you are eligible for their financial aid policy. If your income qualifies you for financial help, the hospital might cut your bill in half or even forgive it completely. These assistance policies are mandated by law for non-profit hospitals.
Don’t Pay the Sticker Price
The hospital may give you a bill based on the chargemaster rate. It is usually more than the amount paid by insurance companies. It is like the sticker price that hospitals use to deal with insurance companies. An uninsured person may be billed for the entire chargemaster price.
Some hospitals are easier to work with than others. But maintaining a persistent behavior is crucial as it might pay off in the long term. To reach an affordable deal, it could take months or even years.
Do Not Use a Credit Card to Pay the Medical Debt
It is highly recommended to avoid putting medical debt on a credit card. If you put it on a debit card, you are giving up any medical debt protections you might have.
When you pay with a credit card, it will shift the debt away from the hospital. It will ultimately take away the incentive to negotiate. You will not be able to get any assistance in setting up a payment plan.
Prioritize Other Bills on Medical Debt
It would help if you prioritized high-interest debt. You need to take care of your mortgage and credit card debt first. Medical debt does not have the same negative impact on your credit as other types of debt. Furthermore, federal law prevents credit bureaus from reporting the medical debt on your credit report. It will report until it has been due for six months. It will help you get some time to negotiate with your hospital or insurance company.
Check Your Hospital Bill for Errors
Medical bills often contain errors. You should carefully check your bill first before asking for any assistance or reduction. If you believe you don’t owe them money and the insurance company made a billing error, you can ask for an internal review.
Consider a Non-Profit Advocate
Working with a non-profit organization is a wise decision. Finding a qualified non-profit advocate or counselor might be a huge help if you are overwhelmed by medical expenditures.
Dealing With Current Medical Debt in Collections
Engage with your healthcare provider before they send your account to collections. If a collection agency has already contacted you about your medical debt. In that case, you should take the following simple steps to deal with collections:
Within five days of your request, a collection agency must offer you a written explanation of your charge. You need to ensure that your bill is accurate. This step will assist you in avoiding scammers by checking the legitimacy of your bill.
You can challenge collections or contact your medical provider or insurance company if you find errors in your billing.
Negotiate with collection agencies for the payment plans. They may accept a reduced payout.
Although you want to settle your debts as soon as possible, don’t pay more than you owe. Otherwise, you will end up with a high-interest loan that will be tough to repay.
Getting out of medical debt is a difficult task. Monitoring your credit score and credit report during this process is essential. It will help you understand the impact medical debt may have on your credit.