Heal Your Medical Debt

Medical debt is like a double punch. It’s bad enough that you or your family were sick or injured, but now you have large medical bills looming over you.

medical debt

According to a study by the American Journal of Medicine, medical bills were the cause of 62% of bankruptcies in 2007. In addition, the study showed that 80% of those filings had health insurance and were still unable to deal with the bills. The average debt was $18.000 for insured people and $27,000 for uninsured ones. Medical debt is a serious situation and its impact can be felt not just in families, but workplaces and communities.  Don’t let medical bills hurt your finances and relationships. Consumer Credit of the Quad Cities can help you deal with medical debt before it becomes a tragic situation.

If you do a quick search online about medical debt, the top results are not the best solutions. Most of the results are offers for various types of loans or debt reduction programs that cost you even more money. We want to help you get out of debt, not add to it. Here are some tips that we feel will get you ahead of your medical debt.

First Rule: Don’t Ignore the Bills!

Doctors, hospitals, and other medical services aren’t going to stop trying to get paid, just because you ignore their bills. They will try for a while, but when you don’t respond, they will be forced to turn it over to a collection agency. This is a no-win situation for everyone, except the debt collector: the medical agency gets pennies on the dollar for the debt, you’re still on the hook for the money, and the bill collector gets the money. If your debt goes to collections, it will show up on your credit report, endangering your chances for getting a loan or even a job. The collector can also sue for the money, which could result in wage garnishments, bank levies, or other judgments.

Read the Paperwork

When the medical field and insurance companies are involved, things can get a little cloudy. When you get a piece of mail regarding a medical procedure, make sure that it is actually a bill and not an Explanation of Benefits. Insurance companies sometimes send out an explanation of what they covered, but it is not a bill. However, don’t disregard the information, as it will give you a warning of what medical bills may be heading your way. If the full amount isn’t paid, expect a bill to follow for the remainder.

Trust, Yet Verify

You can probably trust that your insurance and bill are accurate, but ultimately it’s your responsibility to make sure. There are a lot of parts when it comes to medical billing with a lot of people and agencies involved, so mistakes can happen. First, make sure that your service was billed to the insurance company correctly (the right tests, procedures, etc.). If you think a service should’ve been covered by insurance, it is your responsibility to follow up on it. You could save yourself a major headache by catching an error early in the process.

The Power of Negotiation

Be honest, do you know why a hospital charges $20 for one ibuprofen or $300 for some bandages? They probably don’t either, but people don’t usually question it and the bill gets paid. If your insurance company won’t pay for something, you may not have to either. You can discuss your bill with the finance department or a billing clerk and explain your situation. If you aren’t up to making a call, someone like Consumer Credit of the Quad Cities can help you.

Small Bill? Pay It!

A small bill can turn into a big problem if you ignore it. It is better to pay it off, even if you have to dip into savings or emergency funds. Write your account number on the check and write the check number on the portion of the bill that you keep for the records. If you receive another bill, you will be able to show them that you paid the amount.

Big Bill? Make Installments

Most doctor’s offices and hospitals are willing to work with you on making payments on a large bill. Ask them for a payment plan and make sure it is something you can do safely. If you negotiate with them and let them know you are working on paying off the debt, they are less likely to turn it over to collections.

#1 Tip: Communication

Just like any bill or debt, it is important to communicate with the people that you owe money to. Let them know you are trying to pay the debt. If you don’t, they will most likely assume that you are just ignoring the bill. Whether your bill is with the original medical facility or has been handed over to collections, talk with them. Set up payment plans or to make an agreement of some kind.

Consumer Credit of the Quad Cities can help you navigate the road to debt recovery. Contact us today and let us help you.