Life has its way of throwing curveballs at you. One day, you’re perfectly normal – the next day, a serious medical emergency you never anticipated comes knocking on your door. Whether you’ve been involved in an accident and require surgery or you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, there are thousands of things that could go wrong with your health.
Unfortunately, medical bills are typically costly. And before you realize it, you’re deep in medical debt. Little wonder one in five Americans struggles to pay their medical bill. But the burden of medical debt doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. To help you in your repayment journey, we’ll explore practical steps you can take to ease the entire process.
Pause and think
It can be shocking when your medical bill arrives, and you see $100,000 on the invoice. Your palm gets all sweaty, and your mind gets destabilized. This moment is certainly NOT the right time to make a decision. So before you empty your retirement account, sign up for a medical credit card, declare bankruptcy, or make any other rash decision, stop and think!
Your family takes priority.
When you’re drowning in medical debt, it’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing your debt over everything else – even your family. You begin to see every single dollar you have as a means to lower your debt to the detriment of your family. That’s the last thing you want!
Your family is currently through immense pain due to the medical condition of their loved one. Adding the extra burden of impending bills is insensitive. Wait until your family recovers. Only then should you formulate a plan on how you intend to pay.
Confirm your bills
Look, human beings are the ones handing over the bills to you at the hospital. And as you know, humans are error-prone. That’s why it’s important to review your bills to ensure that you’re not being overcharged for anything! For instance, if you stayed in the hospital for two days after an uncomplicated appendectomy, but you’re billed for a six-night stay, that’s an error you have to call out.
If you have medical insurance, ensure the hospital sends your bill to them first. On top of that, make sure to confirm with your insurer why they’re not covering some costs.
After doing all of these, you know exactly what you need to pay. If you have lots of assets, you can sell some of them to pay off your bill. If you don’t, you might have a harder time repaying.
Budget like crazy
If you’ve been carefree about your spending in the past, now is the time to change. Without a budget, you tend to spend on unnecessary things – money that could go into paying your debt. Start by listing out all your expenses for each month – food, shelter, transportation, utilities, mortgage, student loan, auto loan, etc. After making all these deductions from your income, you might be able to free up a reasonable amount.
That freed-up money should also be accounted for. It may go towards paying part of your medical bill. The goal is to ensure that all your spendings are well accounted for so you can squeeze out more to cover your bill.
Try negotiating with the healthcare administrator.
If you suspect that paying your medical debt might be impossible because of your current financial situation, consider calling the hospital administrator to see if you can have it lowered. Show them your income and budget and tell them how much you can pragmatically pay. Administrators are usually merciful, especially when they see you’re taking concrete steps to pay back your debt.
Moreover, your medical debt might be discharged if you eventually declare bankruptcy since medical debt is considered non-priority unsecured debt. From the hospital’s perspective, it’s better to receive part of the money than none at all.
Adopt the debt snowball strategy to pay off your medical debt
There’s a pretty strong chance you have other debts to contend with aside from your medical debt. This may be your mortgage, auto debt, student loan, or credit card debt. The debt snowball method is a good way to manage all your debt.
When using this strategy, you make the minimum payments on all your debts, while actively tackling your smallest debt till it is cleared. Thereafter, you continue this process till you clear off your next smallest debt. You work your way upwards until you have just the larger debts left to pay off.
This strategy works well because it helps you reduce your total number of debts. The small wins along the way also keep you motivated throughout the process.
Debt of any kind can be one of the most stressful things you ever have to navigate, but we are here to help you through the process. We’ll guide you through the maze of the financial system. Contact us today for more information.