Medical debt can be one of the most devastating financial situations a person has to face. Not only are they facing personal health issues, they are constantly wondering how to afford current bills and future treatment.
Medical debt crushes you in a way like no other. Your primary concern is health, but you also need to deal with money and your only option for avoiding debt is to refuse treatment – something nobody wants to do because of an inability to pay.
If you are dealing with medical debt problems, you are not alone. Estimates show more than 43 million Americans are behind on payments to doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers. Even those with health insurance coverage must deal with high deductibles (in the case of the ACA bronze plan, the average deductible is more than $10,000) and many still have no health insurance coverage.
Luckily, you have options if you are dealing with massive medical debt. It is possible to get out from under it and focus on what is most important – your health or the health of a loved one. What are some things you can do to ease the burden of medical debt?
Negotiate Payments Right Away
If you are like most people, you will know the moment a bill arrives in your mail whether you can realistically afford it. If the amount you owe is far more than what you could ever afford to pay, try to negotiate a lower amount. Most hospitals are willing to accept a payment plan, but are far more flexible if you act fast.
Negotiate a Settlement with a Collection Agency
If your medical debt has been turned over to a collection agency, you have the option of negotiating a settlement with them for a lower overall amount. You will need to pay a lump sum up front, but it can be significantly lower than the total debt.
The advantage of paying off the debt to a collection agency is it removes their ability to sue you and garnish your wages. You also have the option of agreeing to a payment plan with the debt collection agency, which you can do if you do not have enough for a lump sum. These payment plans can last a long time and do not protect you against a lawsuit if you miss a payment.
Ideally, you can afford to settle in full for a lesser amount and be done with the debt as soon as possible. Just be sure to get any settlement arrangement in writing before you pay.
Your final option when it comes to dealing with medical debt is to file for bankruptcy. In most situations, medical debt is extinguished when a person files for bankruptcy. If your medical debt is more than half of your annual gross income, bankruptcy is a viable option. And if your debt is greater than 100% of what you earn each year, bankruptcy might be your only option.
If you are considering bankruptcy, notify the hospital or healthcare provider and see if they are willing to settle. Sometimes, they are willing to settle once they are faced with the possibility of receiving no money toward the debt.
Keep in mind, bankruptcy is only a good option if you are unable to pay the debt. If you file and the court determines you can afford to pay for your medical debts, chances are your bankruptcy request will be denied.
Are you drowning in medical debt and unsure where to turn? We can help. Contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696 to discuss your situation and determine if bankruptcy is your best option.