Millions of working-age Americans from all income groups are struggling to pay medical bills and manage accumulated medical or long-term care debt. Many will continue to face problems with medical bills for years after their care was provided.
If you have been hit with unexpected, costly expenses like these, consider some of these tips for coping with your situation.
Talk to your health care provider.
If you find your medical bills are piling up faster than you can pay them, don’t hesitate to call your service provider and be honest about your situation. Ask for a reduction in fees or discuss setting up a payment plan that is satisfactory to both of you. It never hurts to ask, and you may be pleasantly surprised to find that it is not that difficult to negotiate a solution.
Avoid using credit cards or bank loans to finance the debt.
Perhaps the only positive aspect of medical debt is that health care professionals rarely report payment information to credit monitoring bureaus unless the debt has been passed off to a collection agency. On the
other hand, credit card and installment loan data is routinely reported. So the wiser strategy may be to deal directly with the doctor, hospital or extended care facility to work out a payment plan.
Review your bills carefully.
Medical bills typically arrive long after the service was rendered and they are notoriously complex, including multiple line items for physician time, laboratory tests, radiology, etc. Take time when the bills arrive to read through them and make sure you agree not only with the services performed, but also the details of how much coverage is provided by your health insurance.
Tap your emergency fund.
If there ever was a good argument for maintaining an emergency fund, an unexpected medical bill is it. While emergency funds may not cover your entire debt, they can help finance a payment plan that enables you to chip away at the debt or monthly obligation.
Obtain long-term care insurance.
Long-term care insurance is a critical safety net to deploy in the event that you become ill or disabled. This type of policy may be a lifesaver to assist in paying for extended care needs, thus preserving your other assets. These types of policies are NOT created equal. Contact us for a referral to a reputable agent that can evaluate your situation and, if needed, recommend a quality insurance company.