by Susan Paige
If you’re facing mounting medical bills that you feel you cannot afford to pay, you are not alone. Medical debt in the US is the leading cause of bankruptcy, with an estimated 530,000 American families filing for medical-related bankruptcy every single year.
Healthcare costs have risen steadily in the US over the past decade, despite salaries remaining relatively flat. If you are unable to service your medical debt, you might be seeking medical debt forgiveness.
There are a number of options out there for those wishing to clear their unaffordable medical debt. Here are five that you can pursue today.
1. Double-Check Your Bill and Insurance Policy
Before pursuing medical bill debt forgiveness, it is imperative that you check your medical bill and insurance policy carefully.
It has been estimated that close to 90% of all medical bills contain errors, meaning that you might be being unlawfully charged for expenses that are incorrect.
If you notice any discrepancies or charges that you should be already covered for, immediately contact the billing department of your provider. There is a significant chance that your debt could be a mistake.
2. Consult a Medical Debt Forgiveness Program
If there is no mistake, you might be jumping straight to wondering how to pay off medical debt in collections. However, this should always be your last resort.
First, see if you qualify for forgiveness from one of America’s many medical debt forgiveness programs. One of the largest is RIP Medical Debt, which has paid off more than $1 billion in medical debt since 2014.
Many churches, local advocacy groups, and NGOs exist to pay off the debts of those who are struggling, as well as negotiate better settlements on your behalf.
3. Take Out a Personal Loan
If you lack the resources to cover your medical bills on your own, you can pursue personal finance options to cover the debt.
You might be wondering “does medical debt affect your credit?”, and this might make you wary of applying for a personal loan.
However, a medical debt almost never impacts a credit score, meaning that your personal financing options will remain open.
What’s more, companies such as Bonzai Finance offer personal loans specifically to those with poor credit, which you can easily request online in just a few clicks.
4. Negotiate a Payment Plan or a Settlement
If you are unable to have your debt written off, you should contact your provider or collection agency to see if you can negotiate a settlement or payment plan.
Negotiation is a routine part of medical debt collection, and doing so can reduce your overall bill by between 20-40%. You could offer to pay off a smaller amount in a single lump sum, potentially saving you money.
You could arrange a payment plan where you pay off the debt in small monthly installments over a long period of time. These are all commonly sought out options that are often accepted.
5. Apply for a Hardship Plan with Your Provider
Most providers offer some form of income-driven hardship plan. If your income is low and your bills are high, you should contact your provider to see what plans they offer. You can also spend extra time online shopping for coupons and the best value when it comes to medical expenses. Sites like health.com provide readers with in-depth guides about everything from hearing aids to medical alerts so you can get the best product for the best price. Buying your devices one time will save you money in the long run.
Such plans often substantially reduce debt, allow you to defer payments, or write off your debt entirely.
In many cases, you may need to apply for Medicaid prior to applying for a hardship plan. You will also need to provide substantive proof of income.
Medical debt forgiveness is possible, but it is not a cure-all for your debts. To see how you can dig yourself out of debt permanently, make sure to consult our comprehensive, expertly-designed Debt Resources today.
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