It's true that medical debts can hold you back, but fortunately, there are many ways to reduce or eliminate them without struggling financially. Medical debts accrue quickly, so knowing how to handle them is key to success.
Around one out of four adults has medical debt, according to research from 2015, which is less than the nearly 30 percent of adults who had medical debts in 2012. Even though this is the case, Millennials and those in Generation X have reported high levels of debt. Around a fourth of those in these groups had past-due medical bills in 2015.
What can you do to avoid medical debts? The first step is to have an emergency savings account. Even if you only have an extra $500 or $1,000, it may make the difference between struggling financially due to a medical need or getting what you need without a second thought.
Once you have medical debt, it's important not to ignore it. Medical debt goes to collections if it's not paid, just like any other bill. This hurts your credit and your ability to get financing in the future. You may want to ask about the billing codes used when your medical bills were submitted; the right code could save you hundreds in fees where another ends up costing you much more. Always verify that your bill is correct before making any payments.
Finally, ask about financing through the hospital along with any assistance programs it may offer. You may be surprised to find that many hospitals have assistance programs that drastically reduce your medical debts. Your attorney can help you reach out and inform you about various programs you may want to work with.
Source: The New York Times, "What to Do if You Have Medical Debt," Ann Carrns, March 10, 2017