Receiving medical bills can bring more pain than the initial hospital visit and can present a big problem for Americans today. Medical debt is the No. 1 reason people file for bankruptcy, according to the National Bankruptcy Forum on medical debt statistics. Per capita, out of all other countries, the U.S. spends more on health care per person, and it results with one in 10 adults delaying seeking medical treatment, according to NBF.
In a survey conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and New York Times in 2016, 20 percent of Americans who had insurance had problems paying off their bills, which then rose to 53 percent for those uninsured.
Although the Affordable Care Act, made law in 2010, helped about 20 million Americans become insured, according to Allen St. John on Money, there are still drawbacks. According to a Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation polling data in 2017, health care has become less affordable since 2015, even for people who are insured.
There are ways to pay off medical bills without breaking the bank or going into debt. Depending on the financial situation and insurance, these methods may offer more insight on the best way for you to pay off medical expenses.
First, do not ignore medical bills. They have to be paid eventually. If allowed to become forgotten, the collector phone calls will start, and your credit score will take a steep drop.
According to Patty Lamberti on Money Under 30, it is not a good idea to pay off medical bills with a credit card. It could lead to the hard-to-escape hole of debt and negatively impact your credit score. Lamberti said that as long as something is being paid, like a set up payment plan, then life may be easier if smaller payments are made over a period of time.
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education resource, Smart About Money, another method is to set up a Health Savings Account. Things like hospital services and lab fees can be paid for with money from HSA. This works best with high-deductible policies, and the money that is not used rolls over to the next year.
Applying for a loan is another option, but should be considered as a last resort, Lamberti said. This is because if you discover that you cannot, in fact, pay it off, then you could be in rough waters with the APR. However, Lamberti said that there would be less interest to pay with this option, compared to having a balance on a credit card instead.
While these methods may work for one person, it may not for another. There are more ways to pay for medical expenses, and the best way to find the one that works for your situation is to do your research, ask questions, and most importantly to not ignore the bills for another day.
Written by: Alex Dunn