Many people turn to credit cards to pay the hospital bills, but doing so is an expensive decision.
According to Bankrate, the average credit card interest rates are currently hovering above 16 percent. That means that the bill you charge can grow significantly over time, adding hundreds or even thousands to your credit card balance.
Here are five alternatives from Wisebread:
1. Enroll in a payment plan
Some hospitals and health care practitioners offer payment plans for low-income patients. With a payment plan, you can split up your bill over several months or even years. You can pay your bill a little at a time, rather than coming up with thousands at once.
2. Ask about charitable funds
If you can’t afford your bills even with a payment plan, ask the hospital’s billing department about any charitable funds. Some places have money they set aside to pay for treatment of patients who can’t afford to pay the bill themselves.
3. Explore outside nonprofit organizations
If your hospital doesn’t offer any financial assistance, you might be eligible for aid from a separate nonprofit. Organizations like HealthWell, Catholic Charities, and the Children’s Health Fund may be able to help you with your with medical bills. Some offer upfront cash assistance or will even help you negotiate a lower bill.
4. Negotiate your bill
Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to negotiate a lower bill. If you cannot afford the total balance, call the hospital’s billing department and explain your situation. Ask if they’d be willing to accept a lower amount. In some cases, the hospital may agree to settle the debt for less than you were originally billed.
5. Consider a personal loan
If you’ve exhausted your other options and still need help paying your bill, consider taking out a personal loan rather than using your credit card. If you have good credit and a stable income, you could qualify for a loan with an interest rate as low as 5 percent. And, you could choose a longer loan term, making your payments more affordable.
For more information on the issues surrounding medical debt, please contact RIP Medical Debt.