30 Sep Explaining Medical Debt: What happens if you don’t pay your medical bills?
With healthcare costs skyrocketing, Americans find themselves wondering what will happen if they end up not paying their medical bills. If you’re one of those people who is constantly struggling with medical debt, those can have some seriously long-lasting damages to your credit score. The reason for the debt can vary from your regular doctor visits, emergency stays to COVID-related medical treatments. There are ways to reduce this burden and also maintain a clean credit score.
You’re Not the Only One
A survey conducted in the year 2020 showed that the majority of working US citizens are in medical debt. Many of whom have received bills of over USD 10,000. This is not as uncommon as you might think.
So, what exactly happens when you don’t pay your medical debt?
If you miss your payment deadlines, you will be at the receiving end of phone calls and reminder notices. That doesn’t sound too bad. However, things get serious when your debt collection responsibility is assigned to a collection agency. After which you may get multiple telephone calls which initially would be kind but as time goes on will become stern in tone. If you’re unable to make payments you might be subject to getting sued. This would mean a chunk from your wage will go to pay off debt or your property might be put on lien.
If your borrowed amount is enormous, the debt might never die. Your phone may eventually stop ringing, however, your credit score will always show defaults which would hinder any loans you might want to take in the future. A lower credit score often results in losing the ability to purchase a home, car, or any large transaction on credit.
How can you reduce your debt?
There are several ways you can bear in mind to reduce your medical bill. However, these methods would require you to invest time and effort with a lot of persistence to find solutions. In the end, you might be able to save some money and make your debt considerably manageable.
Review your bills
The biggest mistake you can make is to think your healthcare bills are correct and accurate. Mostly these bills contain errors, which include but are not limited to duplicate billing of the same service, unreasonable charges, and vague subjects, making it difficult for patients to comprehend what they are being charged for.
You may have paid bills before with similar charges without noticing these errors. If you invest time in reviewing your bills and ask relevant questions about items you fail to recognize or have utilized, you will end up saving a lot of money.
Most people don’t know this but medical procedures have a Bluebook value, similar to vehicles. This value is the amount that hospitals will accept as payment for medical procedures, tests, and other services. However, this amount varies. Hospitals often charge one insurance company a certain amount and would charge another one a different amount for the same service. This amount can be twice the price. Patients who do not have insurance, often end up going into shock when they receive their invoice. The purpose is to increase the medical debt of the patient.
You should always tally the amount you are charged with the Bluebook value.
If you can pay your medical bill as soon after you visit the doctor, you are eligible to ask for a prompt-pay discount. This could save you a chunk of your bill. In case you cannot, do not investigate the consequences of what happens if you are unable to make payments from the healthcare provider. They may ask for financial statements and tax returns, however negotiating your medical bill will cut down a good amount from your debt, or assist you in setting up a doable payment plan.
Your Home Equity
If you are managing all your debt payments through your credit cards, it potentially has made the interest higher. If you consider using your home equity, it could assist you in managing your medical bills and making them more affordable.
Another option could be taking a personal loan for debt consolidation. This way you will have to manage a single bill every month rather than several invoices from healthcare providers. However, you must make sure you’re not paying a higher interest rate than you are to your original creditors.
Healthcare has, no doubt become expensive today. You can’t prevent these bills from coming in, however, you can plan them better. By just spending some time reviewing everything and planning your payments you may free yourself from debts. It’s best to pay your debts as soon as possible before they leave a lifelong scar on your credit score.