Medical debt is hitting ordinary Americans hard. Many people cannot afford their co-pays or coinsurance. Throw in a major surgical procedure and the average person is under financial duress.
The fact is over 137 million Americans are struggling with medical debt. They are responding by delaying retirement or even filing for bankruptcy. Some take on credit card debt or see their credit score collapse as past-due bills go into collection.
Read on to learn how to get medical debt resolution. Explore alarming statistics and 7 tips that will help you get out of medical debt.
Medical Debt Statistics
Medical debt plagues nearly 40% of the United States population. Currently, 1 of every 6 people has a past due medical bill.
Even more surprising, these bills are not always for large amounts. More than half of these outstanding bills are for $600 or less. This statistic demonstrates that many Americans cannot even pay a moderate amount.
It comes as a surprise to many that millennials are the group most negatively affected by medical debt. Roughly 11% of Americans with a medical bill in collections are 27 years old.
This is because many young Americans decide to risk it and not carry health insurance. The good news is that we will show you how to eliminate your medical debt.
1. Make Contact With the Billing Office
Many people make the mistake of avoiding the bill altogether. They rip up the bills and forget that it existed. When the collectors start calling, they hang up or ignore the call altogether.
However, this is not sound advice. Instead, you should talk to the billing office or collector. Tell them the predicament that you are in and see if there is anything they can do to help.
Sometimes, they can place your account on hold while potential insurance issues are investigated. In some cases, they may offer a discount for prompt payment.
Another option they will offer is to help you set up a payment plan. Based on your income, you could be eligible for financial assistance as well.
2. Check the Date of Service
Outstanding debt does not last forever. It can and will expire. There is a statute of limitations on debt. Once this period expires, the debt collector can no longer sue you.
This means they have less leverage during any discussions. In order to get the correct information, ask for debt verification. This will give you the right date to see if the statute of limitations has been reached.
3. Review Your Explanation of Benefits (EOB)
Along with your medical bill, you should also receive an accompanying EOB from your insurance company. This EOB informs you how much your insurance company paid towards the claim.
It also says how much of the bill you are responsible for. You would be surprised how often the bill does not match the EOB.
If there is an issue, you can ask the doctor’s billing office to resubmit the claim. If you disagree with the insurance company’s coverage, you can file an appeal.
All of these measures will buy you precious time to pay off the debt. In many cases, the debt collector will put your account on hold while these issues are resolved.
4. Inquire About Financial Assistance
Before paying anything out-of-pocket, you should inquire about financial assistance. Whether financial assistance is available depends entirely on the health care provider.
It is very common for hospitals to provide charity care for those that meet the income criteria. The hospital will have an administrative office that will help you apply for charity care.
5. Set Up a Payment Plan
One reason that many Americans struggle with medical bills is that they cannot pay the full amount in a single installment. This is one area where the doctor’s billing office or collection agency can help you.
They can set up a custom payment plan to help you afford it. There are several different ways that a payment plan can be crafted.
For example, you could pay off the outstanding balance in 6 months or a year. The primary objective is to spread out the balance over several months. This helps make the medical debt more manageable and defer some of the amount until later.
6. Debt Consolidation
If your medical debt gets out of hand, you should consider applying for a debt consolidation. This is a great option for Americans that have multiple outstanding balances.
With a debt consolidation, you can roll multiple accounts into one line of credit. Instead of juggling multiple due dates, it will be easier to manage one payment per month.
A debt consolidation also provides the benefits of a single payment each month over a set term usually 12-60 months depending on what you can afford for amonthly payment. It effectively spreads the outstanding account balances out over an extended term. This makes medical debt payments less strenuous on your personal budget.
Another potential benefit is folding in other types of debt into your consolidation. Other types of debt like credit cards or student loans are eligible for debt consolidation.
Medical Debt Resolution – A Recap
Medical debt is an uncomfortable topic. The good news is that you are not alone and there are options at your disposal. Steps like a payment plan or a debt consolidation can solve your debt problems.
If you are seeking medical debt resolution, contact us today for information on debt consolidation.