Medical bills are a leading cause of debt and bankruptcy in the United States. It is so unfortunate that we pay thousands of dollars per month for Medical Insurance, but then are faced with pills of Medical Bills after we seek medical treatments. Similar to other problems in the United States, I do not know the answer to this one, but I do have a solution for you to consider. Medical Bills are not bills that you can pre plan for, or save for in advance, unless the medical decision is most often elective. This content is going to be for the bills that you were not able to prepare for.
Here are my 4 recommendations as to how to best deal with Medical Bills you did not have time to financially plan for:
You: Hello,I am calling because I received a medical bill that I am having trouble paying. Can you help me understand what options I have.
[Representative explains the options]
You: Thank you for explaining my options. Is there a settlement amount you would take today to clear this bill?
[Representative may offer payment plan, financial assistance number or settlement discount]
You: I appreciate that, but I was wondering If theres any further room for a reduction to my bill. This expenses is really weighing on me. I am willing to pay, but the full amount via a payment plan, and/or that small of a discount is not going to make a difference on my ability to pay. If you are not able to offer a larger discount may I please speak to your Manager?
[Representative says this is the best they can do]
You: Okay thank you, at this time I am going to continue to postpone making a payment on this bill at the full amount that is listed. I simply can not afford this amount. In the meantime, can I please have your supervisors contact Information to further this discussion and an Itemized bill for the services I am paying for?
Although this may not always work, it is worth a try. In addition, it is important to note that I recommend before you begin your negotiations and settlement discussion, make sure you know your target amount. How much are you willing to pay and how much can you afford to agree to. You need to be able to follow through and not be greedy. In the event they are not willing to compromise. Thank them for their time and try again another day in hopes that the representative is more flexible the next time you call to discuss the settlement agreement. If they threaten to send your bill or inform you that your bill will be sent to a collections company. You need to understand that this is a consequence of you not being able to pay the bill in full. It is an annoying reality, but it is the reality of unpaid bills. However, if the collections company does get your bill, they will most likely harass you, which is annoying, but you may be able to negotiate and come to a settlement agreement with them that is more affordable for you.
None of this is easy. It is all annoying! It is very time consuming and if you are not fit to have these discussions I do recommend putting them off a little while until you have the emotional stamina to get into the ring and fight for a discount. Or, look to a friend or family member who can do the negotiations on your behalf. If you go this route, be sure to have strict boundaries in place to not allow them to agree to a payment you are not able to uphold.
According to Equifax, "As of July 1, 2022, paid medical collection debt will no longer appear on credit reports. And the time period before unpaid medical collection debt appears on your credit reports increases from 6 months to 1 year.
Be sure to be your first advocate. If you can afford to pay the bill in full, just do it. However if you can not these are recommendations to allow yourself a little bit of breathing room. I do not want to see you putting these bills off forever and hoping they will go away. They wont! Be wise, be kind and be a responsible adult when approaching your medical debts.