Medical debt can blindside you when you least expect it. It could be as simple as a small injury that needs an x-ray and stitches, or perhaps an emergency appendectomy; it could also be as huge as a quadruple by-pass, or a hip replacement. Either way, you could be ahead financially one day, and $100k in debt the next.
The percentage of Americans that are struggling with medical debt has grown 3.5% per year since 2005. This is pathetic to me. The cost of medical procedures is extraordinary, and many health insurance plans don’t help much… if you can even get on an insurance plan at all.
I came upon this link in CNN yesterday morning that might help you, if you think you are in danger of falling deeply into medical debt. You should act on these tips as soon as you realize you owe. Five mistakes that will land you in medical debt.
- As soon as you receive your bills, follow up with the service providers. Talk to a hospital representative about charitable help and about setting up a payment plan.
- Look for errors in your bills. This could be any charge that you don’t think you should pay for, or straight up invalid charges.
- Always try to negotiate with the hospital. Get them to cut the bill in half or more, by offering to cut them one lump sum. You should still be able to negotiate with payment plan too.
- Ask for financial assistance from the hospital. Then seek out additional state-funded or private resources that are set up to help someone such as yourself.
- Did I mention working out a payment plan? Once you have appealed, bartered, negotiated, and applied for assistance, go ahead and more forward with scheduling a payment plan. Set up an automatic debit from your checking account if possible. I recommend not auto-billing it to a credit card or you could end up in another kind of debt. You must be sure not to miss your payments, even if you can only send $25 a month.
Managing Your Credit Report
Your credit history is a big deal. Any time you need a loan, the loan provider will always check your credit. If you want to take out a personal loan, buy a car, buy a house, rent an apartment, etc… you will almost always have to incur a credit check.
That medical debt baggage could damage your credit history if you don’t follow the above 5 tips.
If you feel like you want to check your credit, or if you would like email alerts sent to your inbox whenever your credit report is pinged, check out the following two URLs:
- Consumer Direct Free Credit Score 3.0 – Get four FREE Credit Reports and a FREE credit analysis. 5-Day Free Trial.
- FreeCreditReport.com – Get 3 FREE Credit Reports, 3 FREE Credit Scores, and a FREE Credit Diagnosis with a FREE 7 Day Trial Membership. They will also help you easily dispute claims.
- Go Free Credit – Get a 30 day free trial with instant access to your credit reports.
I have talked to several people that recommend those sites, and I have also used both with success.