Getting Help with Medical Bills

Medical Bill Debt Doesn't Have to Be a Hopeless Situation. There Are Many Tips, Strategies, and Debt-relief Programs that You May Find Helpful

If you have medical insurance, there's a good chance you may need help with medical bills because you are not able to cover the hospital expenses in the event something fairly expensive happens to you. If something relatively minor, such as gall bladder surgery, becomes suddenly necessary, you'll have had an unexpected hospital stay, and the bills will start rolling in. Your insurance may have covered the majority of the expense, but chances are good that when you get home, you'll have separate bills from different doctors, the hospital, the surgeon, and the anesthesiologist. The total of all these bills - after your insurance has paid their part - may well exceed $5,000, and that is just an estimate. The average person, unfortunately, does not have that kind of money lying around. So what do you do?

Finding Help With Medical Bills
When the bills come in and you don't have the money to pay them, it won't take the hospitals or doctor's offices long to turn you over to collection agencies. If you are not able to pay after that, there is a possibility that legal action will be taken against you. Obviously, you want to avoid these scenarios, but what can you do if you simply do not have the money?

Be Honest
Explain to the debt collectors that you don't have the money to pay them. Even though it may be hard to believe, this is better than simply ignoring their phone calls. If you ignore the calls, they will become more persistent and aggressive, and they might be more likely to take legal action since you will not acknowledge them.

Work Out An Arrangement
Explain your situation to your debtors, and let them know how much money you can spare, if any. If you can only send them $10 a week, or $10 a month, tell them so. There's a chance they won't find this acceptable, but then there's also a chance they will. They might try to scare you by saying that if you send such a small payment, they won't accept it, but this is rarely true. The collection agency or hospital that you're dealing with will likely almost never turn away any money you send to pay on your bill. If you send small amounts regularly, there's also a good chance that they won't take collections any further (i.e. legal action).

See If You Can Get a Settlement
If you owe, for example, $1,500 to a doctor's office and you happen to have $800 of that, ask them if they will settle with you for the amount you do have. You would be surprised how many places are willing to do this. There's no guarantee it will work, but this is always worth a try if you have access to the funds.

Keep Meticulous Records
If you're sending small amounts regularly, keep track of everything you send. Hospitals and doctor's offices make mistakes, and you don't want to be accused of owing more than you do. Write down your total balance or input it into your favorite financial computer program and deduct from the balance every time you make a payment. In the event the place you are dealing with claims you owe more than you believe you do, you'll have documentation to back yourself up.

Explore Other Options
There are lots of non-profit debt consolidation companies that can offer you some help with medical bills. These companies normally accept a small monthly payment from you and distribute this payment amongst all the places you own on your behalf. The monthly payment amount will likely include a small fee to be paid to them for their services. Doctors offices and hospitals normally agree to arrangements through organizations like these because it shows that you want to pay them, and it means that they will probably get their money. This will also spare you the hassle of constant collection calls and threatening letters in the mail.

Published by Anna T

Anna is freelance writer and stay at home mom. In addition to submitting content on a variety of topics for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and other sites, Anna also devotes lots of time to her personal blog...  View profile