By Chris Lewis
Incurring medical expenses is a scary thing, and that is unfortunately very common. Even with good medical insurance, you can be left with a hefty medical bill, confused about how you’re going to pay for it. When it comes to paying back your medical expenses, whether they’re related to childbirth, a surgery or just an emergency room visit, the truth is that you have options.
How to Pay off Your Medical Expenses
By being smart about paying down your medical debt, you’ll ensure the debt does not hit your credit report. When you receive a medical bill, the most important thing to do is to ensure that it’s accurate. Receiving a medical bill is bad enough, but when it’s inaccurate, due to a billing mistake, getting it corrected can be quite the task. Start by reviewing the bill and look for any discrepancies, such as services you did not receive or medications you didn’t take.
Do not under any circumstances ignore your medical bills. By taking no action, you run the risk of the bills going to collections, negatively impacting your credit score.
- Ask for a payment discount–not every provider will oblige, but it’s worth haggling. You may be able to combine this reduced payment rate with another payment option, like a payment plan, to stay within your budget.
- Work out a payment plan–most medical providers are willing to work out a payment plan, breaking your payment into small, manageable chunks that you pay monthly until you’ve satisfied the debt.
- Offer to pay today–if a medical bill catches you off guard, call the provider and offer to pay today. If you’ve got a $1,500 medical bill and can pay $1,000, call your provider and tell them. Your provider may take you up on that offer, because they’d rather collect your payment than have it go to collections.
- Show proof of income–if paying medical bills presents you with real financial hardship, you may be eligible for an income-driven hardship plan. Similar to a payment plan, this plan breaks your bill up into small payments that fit into your budget. You may have to apply for medicaid or show proof of your income to qualify.
- Apply for a medical credit card–do this only as a last resort, if your provider does not accept payment plans. These cards are generally for a specific behavior and you can apply right in the office. Many of these cards offer zero interest for 6-12 months. Just do the math to figure out if you can pay off the bill during this time to avoid paying extra interest and fees.
After childbirth, your baby will receive an APGAR score, using a score chart. If your child has a low score, it may result in additional testing or even a hospitalization, meaning unexpected medical bills.
Prepare yourself when you receive a medical bill and know what your options are for repayment. Medical bills affect all of us–they don’t have to have a negative impact on your credit score, or your life.