Medical care in the United States is astoundingly expensive. While many employers and government agencies offer health insurance plans, many people are either unemployed, underinsured, or otherwise left without appropriate coverage. Something as simple as breaking a leg or having your appendix removed can cost thousands of dollars, and treating conditions like cancer or diabetes is even more expensive. Navigating the world of medical debt can be incredibly challenging, but these strategies can help individuals and families work toward being debt-free.
Do Everything Possible to Minimize Medical Debt from the Start
While many people focus on medical debt once they have already accrued it, some of the most effective methods of minimizing debt require you to be proactive. Get insurance before you need it, and try to get the best plan (and for the best value) that you possibly can. Look into government subsidies for healthcare, discounted insurance plans, and other programs that can minimize your healthcare spending while boosting your family’s coverage. Doing research and investing in health insurance before you need it can help you in the long run. Also, do your best to get the preventative care that you need to stay healthy. While some accidents and conditions are unavoidable, you may end up paying less if you can avoid developing certain conditions in the first place.
Work with the Hospital and Your Insurer
The previous tips help you reduce the amount you owe from the beginning, but how can families pay off their medical debt once they have gotten the bill? The secret here is that most medical bills are not set in stone. Once you have received your medical bill, be proactive and reach out to the hospital’s accounting department. Request an itemized invoice and look over it to make sure that there are no duplicates or incorrect charges. It is much harder to have your balance reduced once you have agreed on a repayment plan, so be sure to work hard with the hospital’s billing department, a patient advocate, and your insurance company to bring your total down before you sign anything.
Adopt an Appropriate Debt Repayment Strategy
There are a few ways that people approach debt repayment; the snowball method is popular, as is the avalanche method. Choose to prioritize debts based on interest rates, loan terms, and other factors, and incorporate your medical debt into your overall debt repayment strategy. It may make more sense for you to prioritize your medical bills, or it could be smarter to pay minimums on your medical debt and pay more for high-interest loans. Weigh all of your options when you develop a debt repayment strategy and adjust this plan whenever you get new information or the situation changes.