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Medical bills and expenses can soon rack up, they are one of the most ubiquitous expenses in America and regardless of whether or not you have a medical insurance plan, it is easy to become overwhelmed with unpaid deductibles, co-pays and prescriptions, risking significant debt if left unmanaged. In this article we explore some of the best ways you can manage your medical debts.

Starting with the good news; since 2015 the top three credit bureaus, who work out how your credit score is assigned relating to your various debts, have decided that medical debt affects your credit score at a slightly lower rate than other types of debt. They have additionally decided to resist reporting any outstanding medical debts for a minimum 180 days rather than the previous 30 day time limit that still applies to other forms of debt, this in turn gives you a lot more time to formulate a debt recovery plan and make sure you can make the repayments.

Regardless of the medical issue that caused the medical bills in the first place it’s important that you start planning as soon as the initial medical bills start to roll in. The danger comes when you put off addressing the potential debt, allowing the problem to deepen.

Preventative maintenance is key

You can mitigate much of a potential medical debt crisis by reaching out to the debtor and working out a sensible repayment plan. It’s important that you have firstly worked out a budget that allows you to clearly demonstrate what you can and cannot afford on a monthly basis based on income and expected outgoings. Healthcare providers are usually amenable to negotiation and they are more concerned with a regular payment plan being put into action. 

Avoid making late payments if possible

Debt becomes an issue when you can’t stick to the agreed repayment plan. If you miss enough payments and fail to communicate effectively with the concerned parties then you could find debt being moved on to a debt collection agency, if this situation spirals out of control (especially if other debts are accumulating) you may eventually end up having to deal with a medical debt lawsuit. If you are already in that situation then it’s important to ask for help; there are many free and professional services available to ensure you don’t allow a debt lawsuit to cause you serious problems, the critical element is communication as that will very often help you prevent an otherwise avoidable legal crisis.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate

Sometimes it’s possible to re-negotiate your repayment plan to find a solution that is affordable for you and acceptable to your debtor. If you are working with a debt resolution agency they may be able to help you through this process or you could go it alone and speak directly with the hospital in question. Remember, whilst the numbers might be frightening, you are still only dealing with people and talking openly will almost always yield a better result than refusing to communicate at all. 

Even your insurance company may be able to help you; perhaps their product didn’t cover many of the expenses that lead to the debt in the first place, but they may still be able to play a part in helping you work out a debt recovery plan.

Planning, communication and asking for external help are all critical elements in successfully managing a medical debt situation.


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