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A guide to dealing with medical debt

Medical debt is often overwhelming and disheartening. When you end up in financial turmoil because of an accident or illness, you may feel like everything is out of control. If you are struggling with debt because of medical bills, you are not alone; it is the main cause of bankruptcy among Americans.

Health care expenses can devastate your finances. You could feel that there is no way out, but there are always options. Here are some tips for dealing with staggering medical costs:

Set up a payment plan

If you are unable to cover your medical bills, do not simply ignore them. Instead, contact your provider as soon as possible. Whether it is your doctor, a hospital, or a pharmacy, you may be able to work something out. Make sure you reach out as soon as you realize you are unable to cover the bill. Late payments or partial payments may result in your provider sending your bill to a collection agency. 

When you contact your medical provider, try to negotiate a payment plan. For example, you may be able to agree to pay off the bill in six months. You never know if you will be able to set up a reasonable arrangement if you do not ask.

Use your credit card

While it is not ideal to put a huge expense on your credit card, sometimes it is one of the only feasible options. You may do this to keep your bills from going to collections. However, be careful that you do not just end up racking up credit card debt and wind up in the same situation shortly down the road. 

Declare bankruptcy

If you have debt that you cannot deal with, you may need to go through bankruptcy court. You can pay your debt over a period of years with Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or completely wipe it out via Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy may sound intimidating, but it can be an effective solution to medical debt.

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