Advice for Managing Medical Debt

A Clearpoint/Kaiser Family Foundation study found that even those with insurance are particularly vulnerable to medical costs.

Some interesting facts and statistics from the study:

Here are a few ideas and strategies from Clearpoint for managing medical debt:

  • Don’t pay medical bills with credit cards or loans. If you’re charged interest on overdue medical bills, it’s probably going to be much lower than credit card interest.
  • Don’t put your home on the line. Your home is a valuable asset. Think very carefully before you attach unsecured medical debt to it.
  • Protect the nest egg. Once you dip into retirement savings, it’s very difficult to restore them, and they represent your future. Make that an absolute last resort.
  • Negotiate upfont. Communicate with your provider about your cost concerns. Compare prices with other clinics and use online resources like the Healthcare bluebook to ensure you pay a fair price. If you have cash available, consider paying a lump sum to get a discount.
  • Review bills carefully. Get itemized copies of your bills and make sure you were charged accordingly.
  • Ask your doctor or hospital about payment plans. Hospitals know the economic reality today. They would prefer that you’re paying something regularly, even a small amount, rather than default or go into bankruptcy. It never hurts to ask.
  • Communicate your hardship. If you face a hardship or bill that’s too much to pay, you need to make this clear to the biller. Explain why this payment is a burden and see what accommodations they are willing to make.