Medical expenses……..what can I say about them? They suck.
In my previous life (okay, previous marriage) I was stuck with around $50k worth of medical expenses when my husband had a helicopter flight and a three day stay in an expensive hospital. And, we didn’t have health insurance.
Those medical bills were an enormous amount stressor and taught me how important health insurance is – even if you’re young and healthy. (Which we were, or thought so, anyway.)
If you’ve found yourself in this situation here are some of your options for paying unexpected medical bills.
Call the Doctor/Hospital to See if There are Sliding Fee Discounts Available
The very first thing you should do, before paying a dime, is to call the hospital or doctor that you received your medical bills from and ask if they make adjustments based on your income.
Almost all hospitals have this program. (I’ve yet to hear of a hospital that doesn’t offer some sort of financial assistance.)
With private doctors having your bills adjusted is a more hit and miss type of thing. Still, it is worth making the call.
You could save yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars by doing this.
Use Your Emergency Fund
I’m always going on and on about the importance of having an emergency fund and using it only for true emergencies. Unexpected medical bills? That’s what I’d call an emergency.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a cash buffer in place this might be a pretty good time to use it.
Take Out a Credit Card with a 0% Introductory Fee
If you’re dealing with a minimal amount of expenses that you can pay off in 6-18 months, take out a credit card that has a 0% introductory offer for that amount of time.
If you go this route please be sure that you can pay off the bill before you’re introductory offer expires. (And read the fine print before signing up.) If you can’t you’re going to get stuck paying an enormous amount of interest on your already unfortunate medical expenses.
Let me say it again just in case I wasn’t clear enough: this is only a good option if you can pay back the money before that 0% expires.
Work Out a Payment Plan
So, as it turns out, most doctors’ offices and hospitals would rather you pay back your bills a little at a time versus not at all. If you receive a medical bill and there’s no way that you can pay the bill with their terms call and ask if you can set up a payment plan that you can actually manage.
Most medical care providers are going to be fine doing this. If you’re in a position where you’re in over your head you need to call your medical providers and get things straightened out asap.
You Can Try Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a system in which your peers can contribute money toward a specific cause. I’ve seen crowdfunding work well when raising money for medical bills in some cases.
If your family has been hit with a catastrophic amount of medical expenses you might consider setting up a page with GoFundMe to see if you can raise money to go toward your expenses. You’ll then need your friends and family to share through social media to get the word out.
Paying Off Your Medical Expenses
When it comes to paying off your medical bills the very first thing you should do is call your providers and ask about both, sliding scale fees based on income and repayment plans. From there you can try other methods of getting those bills paid off as quickly as possible.
If you’ve ever struggled with unexpected medical bills how did you pay them off?