When you’re facing sky-high medical bills and don’t know what to do, it’s tempting to just stuff the bills in the freezer and pretend they don’t exist. That’s definitely not going to solve any of your problems, though. You can get your finances under control. It starts by taking some time to learn what payment options are out there for you to take advantage of.
Give one (or more) of these options a try today to get started on the path to medical debt relief.
- Pay Something Today
Something is always better than nothing. If you can’t pay the full amount that you owe, call your doctor and let them know what you can pay. Remember that your doctors, especially your primary care physician, are on your side. They will often accept the amount you’re offering to avoid sending the bill to the collections. This ends up costing them more money, and it gives them the added obstacle of having to deal with a collections agency.
If your bill has already been sent to a collections agency, you can still try working with the billing officer at your doctor’s office. Let them know what you can afford to pay up front, and then try to work out some kind of payment plan.
- Utilize Online Communication
Have you ever avoided handling an overdue bill because you didn’t want to spend thirty minutes on hold listening to annoying elevator music? One way to bypass a long hold time is to check and see if you can communicate with your insurance provider through their website. Many companies have a live chat option or will allow you to email them with your questions.
Using online communication isn’t just about avoiding a phone call, though. It can also help you avoid confusion. When you communicate with your provider in an email or chat, you usually will only have to work with one person. You don’t have to explain your situation to five different agents, and you are more likely to get a bill reduced if you can stick with one person.
It’s also easier for you to lay your case out for them without getting interrupted or cut off. And, you’ll have a written record of the interaction, which can come in handy later.
- Consider Hiring a Claims Advocate
Certified claims advocates are experienced professionals who can help you with your medical debt relief. If you think there’s an error in your bill or don’t trust yourself to negotiate and have it reduced, a claims advocate can step in and help you save money.
Of course, they don’t work for free — you’ll usually have to pay them a portion of whatever money you saved to cover their hourly rate. But, having a professional on your side can give you peace of mind and help you handle the stress that comes with medical debt.
- Look into State and Federal Programs
Did you know that there are state and federal programs specifically designed to help people with medical debt relief? The organizations listed below are a good place to start:
- State human/social service agencies can provide direct aid or refer you to another organization that is more applicable to your situation.
- State Medicaid offices can be helpful for low-income individuals
- Veterans can seek help from their local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- Eldercare Locator specialists can also direct senior citizens to resources meant for them
- Local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices can help people who are on Social Security and Medicare
Even if you’re not sure any of these organizations can help you, it’s still worth it to try. You might learn about a resource you never knew about before.
- Know that Everything is Negotiable
Just about every bill is negotiable, at least to an extent. Some tips for negotiating your medical bills include:
- Keep track of all your bills and insurance paperwork
- Do your research and find out what a fair right is for the procedures you had done
- Be proactive and contact the doctor’s office as soon as possible
- Know when to hire a professional
- Be realistic and open to different payment options