Medical debt is one of the most common reasons people file bankruptcy. But there a few things you can do to stop your medical debt from spiraling out of control and making you insolvent.
Medical debt is one of the most common reasons people file bankruptcy.
Let’s take a look at five tips for negotiating medical debts with providers:
- Move quickly. Do not delay contacting your provider about your inability to pay a medical bill. Many hospitals and insurance providers will send unpaid medical debt to collections quickly if they haven’t heard from the debtor. Don’t let this happen to you because once your medical debt goes to collections it’s already damaging your credit rating.
- Get an itemized bill. While it’s quite common for medical providers to send you a summary of your bill, you have a right to an itemized bill showing exactly what you’re being charged for. Armed with this bill you can begin negotiating from a position of strength.
- Know the fair rates. It’s true many medical bills reflect pricing that may not coincide with commonly published pricing for similar services. Your medical bills may be inflated because you are being charged rates that morph the service you actually received. Check your medical bill against the rates in the Medical Blue Book. If you find that there is a large discrepancy, point it out to the billing department. They may be willing to bring the price down significantly.
- Put time on your side. Most medical providers want to get paid immediately, but many are willing to accept payment at a later date, you just have to ask. Look at your financial situation and determine when you will be able to pay your medical bill. Also, consider going on a payment plan, even if it takes you a year or more to pay off the medical debt.
- Ask for forgiveness. Many medical providers have hardship programs for extreme financial situations or low income patients. If you’ve lost your job or live on a fixed income, these types of programs may be available to significantly reduce or even completely eliminate your medical debt.
As you negotiate your medical debt, remember to stay calm and respectful with providers as you persistently pursue a better deal.