Being Strategic About Medical Debt
It is for good reason that medical debt is the scariest form of debt. It is a leading reason why people file for bankruptcy and why they struggle to afford necessities. Perhaps the scariest thing about medical debt is that you can couch surf if you can’t afford rent and walk or ride the bus if you can’t afford a car, but if you can’t afford medical treatment, the alternatives are too horrible to think about. If you have been struggling with medical debt for years, the advice you get might be that your choices are debt settlement, a debt consolidation loan, or filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy; none of these do wonders for your credit score. When faced with a scary new medical bill, do not let panic get the better of you; by looking the monster in the eyes, you may be able to reduce the amount you are responsible for paying and therefore pay off the medical bill sooner and with less stress. For help seeing the big picture about old and new medical debts, contact a Miami debt lawyer.
Negotiate Early and Often
The best time to negotiate about medical debt is not when the bankruptcy court has gotten involved or when collection agencies are threatening to sue; rather, the best time to negotiate is as soon as you get the first bill, or even sooner. When a doctor tells you that you will need a costly procedure, or while you are hospitalized, talk to a billing clerk or financial counselor about your situation. Be candid about the fact that you cannot afford to pay the “sticker price” for your treatment; remember that insurance companies talk their way into lower prices, and so can you. It may take some time and persistence to do this, but remember that medical debt does not appear on your credit report until the balance is six months past due. Some hospitals have financial assistance programs and others will simply reward you for your persistence.
Don’t Ignore Your Other Debts
You don’t have to resort to couch surfing and commuting to work on foot in the Florida heat just to keep up with the least expensive payment plan the hospital was willing to offer you. Remember that missing a payment on a medical bill is much less disastrous for your overall financial situation than missing a payment on your home mortgage, rent, or car loan. If six months have gone by and the hospital is not willing to budge on the price or you are struggling to keep up with payments on a patient financing plan (such as AccessOne, CareCredit, or MediCredit), then debt consolidation loans are an option, especially if you are responsible for multiple medical debts.
Take a Deep Breath and Confront Your Medical Debt
A South Florida debt lawyer can help you reduce the cost of your medical debt, even before the first bill arrives in the mail. Contact Nowack & Olson, PLLC in Miami, Florida to discuss your case.