Medical debt is a serious problem for many households. A lot of Americans are trying to get debt relief from medical bills and unfortunately, not everyone is succeeding. The high cost of health care is crippling a lot of us – even those with health insurance. Imagine how the uninsured are coping with the expensive cost of health care. If any of them will get sick, they will either skip the medical treatment or will put themselves in debt just to get healthy.
According to the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, 41% of adults between the ages of 19 to 64 are reported as having medical debt. The statistics compiled in ACAInternational.org revealed that those who are having difficulties, 42% of them or 32 million have a lower credit rating because of all their unpaid medical expenses. This can bring down their financial opportunities and keep them from the low-interest rate that comes with having a good credit score.
How do people get into health-related debt?
We all know that health is wealth and it is funny that once you get sick, the former cannot exist without the latter. Although there are free services, you should know that money is an important aspect of our health. You need it to get better. If you do not have it, you will either be in debt or you will have to forego getting professional help to get better.
Another report published on the Kaiser Family Foundation website revealed that one-third of Americans have admitted that they are having a lot of difficulties paying off their medical debt. It is either they have troubles paying medical bills in the past year or they are painstakingly paying it in installments. Some of them reported that they cannot afford to make any kind of payment – at all! The same report said that getting into debt may be higher for the uninsured but that does not mean the insured is spared from this type of debt. In fact, the study revealed that the people who have reported having difficulties paying their health-related debt are those who are insured.
The problem lies with the out of pocket expenses that are oftentimes still too expensive – despite the coverage of the health insurance. Not only that, a lot of insured individuals have to deal with the additional cost of paying a monthly premium to keep their family covered by the insurance.
The report mentioned that the people who have medical debt are usually those who have other financial obligations like credit card debt, mortgage loans, and other credit obligations. These add up to put them in a compromising financial position.
Keep your health care expenses from turning into uncontrollable debt
So what can you do to keep your health care expenses from becoming uncontrollable debt? Here are some tips that we have for you.
Shop for options
If it is not an emergency and you have time to spare before you need the actual treatment, then look for the best deal in terms of low cost and high-quality care. Take the time to check the prices. If you have a long time illness, do your research now so in case your illness will strike, you know your options and you can act on it quickly. Such planning and preparation will really go a long way and help you keep your costs to a minimum without compromising the treatment that you will need.
Stay away from the ER
If you can avoid it, stay away from going to the Emergency Room. The co-payment is usually at its highest and you do not want to have that as a burden. If you did not know, there are urgent care centers that act like ERs but does not cost as much. Try to search for the nearest facility in your city so you can head out there in times of emergencies.
Know the network of your insurance company
Study the network of health facilities and professionals that your insurance provider has. That way, you will not make the mistake of going for help in a facility or professional that will not be reimbursed by your insurance. There might be arrangements that you can get so you can benefit from packages that will lower your cost even further.
Go to medical schools
These schools have their own clinics where students get to have hands-on practice with actual sick people. While it may seem like you are putting your health on the line, these are quite competent individuals. They will give you the best care for a fraction of the cost that you would have spent in a hospital. These interns need the training and you need low cost and high-quality medical care. That is a great trade-off to stay away from medical debt.
Check and recheck your bills
Not that we want to think that the medical industry cannot be trusted but some people can make mistakes too. If you are staying in a big hospital, some records are bound to mix with the others. So be vigilant and always check that everything in your bill lists services and medications that were given to you. Question anything that you do not understand. Sometimes, there are details that are billed separately when it should have been part of the package.
Yes, there are coupons for your medical expenses too. These can help you save money and keep you out of medical debt. Drug companies and manufacturers want your loyalty. You should be on the lookout for great coupons that will help you save on prescribed medicines.
Ask for medicine samples from your physician
A lot of doctors are given free medicines by drug companies. You may want to benefit from that as well. If your doctor prescribes a medicine, ask them if they have samples. They can give this to you for free to save on costs. They usually do not use this so they may be inclined to hand it over to you.
Buy the generic
Another way to save on prescription drugs is to buy the generic brands. If you cannot get a coupon or a sample from your doctor, but the generic. They cost less and still work in the same way as the name brands.
Probably the best way that you can save money on your health insurance and related costs is to simply keep yourself healthy. Prevention is always better than the cure. In the end, that is the most inexpensive way that you can stay away from medical debt.
Tips to pay off your medical credit problem
The National Patient Advocate Foundation published on NPAF.org that medical expenses are the main factor in individual bankruptcy filings in the country. The percentage is at 62% and the report mentioned that it is increasing. Of those who blamed medical-related debt to their bankruptcy filing, 54.9% blamed the high medical and drug cost. At the same time, 37.8% blamed job loss because of an illness.
In case you have a lot of medical debts, here two options that will make your payments possible.
- Live a frugal life. You want to make sure that your debt will not hinder you from getting a needed medical attention in the future. That is why you need to pay it off as soon as you can. You can do this by living a frugal lifestyle so your expenses will drastically be lower. That should give you enough room to pay more towards your debts.
- Get medical debt reduction. Research your options to reduce what you owe towards your medical debt. It can be through debt settlement or debt management. There are various debt relief programs that will allow you to pay off what you owe based on your financial capabilities.
Although the high cost of medical care makes medical debt a higher possibility, make sure that you build up your emergency fund. This will help you avoid this type of credit. You can also concentrate on getting your good health back instead of stressing about where you will get the money to pay back the high cost of health care.