3 Little-Known Steps to Take When You Get a Big Medical Bill
Hospitals are money pits.
A trip to the emergency room or any surgical procedure can leave you facing huge medical bills. Enormous, gigantic, massive medical bills.
When you get a bill for thousands and thousands of dollars, it’s practically enough to give you a coronary and land you back in the hospital.
Little-Known Strategies to Pay off Medical Debt
Millions of Americans have medical debt. We’ve got some advice you might not hear anywhere else.
Here are three little-known steps you should take to pay down those bills.
1. Let This Company Help You Pay off the Debt
If you have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape…
And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.99% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
2. Protect Your Credit From Bill Collectors
Are unpaid medical bills hurting your credit score? Your credit report will tell you.
Get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.
And don’t worry: If you can’t pay off your medical bill immediately, you’re not alone.
More than 43 million Americans have medical debt, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Not only that, but one in five Americans who have medical insurance have unpaid, past-due medical bills, according to a FINRA Investor Education Foundation study.
If you’re one of them, Credit Sesame can help you keep an eye on your credit. More than half of all collections that are listed on credit reports are associated with medical bills.
3. Negotiate Your Medical Bills
If you’re facing a staggering, scary number, you probably don’t have to pay as much as they’re asking. You can negotiate the price of treatment with your both your provider and your insurance company, and you can approach the negotiation from a number of angles.
If you simply state the total is too high for you to afford, you might be able to score a discount if you can pay a large chunk of the bill up front or in cash.
Even if your provider says no, your lowball starting move primes the negotiation for a lower endpoint. And with the ridiculous premiums charged, 10% to 20% off the bill isn’t much to the provider, even if it’s a sizeable chunk of your lifetime savings.
If you don’t have a lump of cash to hand over in exchange for a deduction, you can probably get on a payment plan with the hospital. Although doing so may not lower your total significantly (or at all), you’ll avoid a negative factor on your credit report and have a concrete, manageable plan for getting rid of your debt.
Mike Brassfield is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.