- How To Negotiate Medical Bills In Collections
- Strategies For Negotiating With The Hospital Billing Department
- How To Negotiate Medical Bills And Lab Fees
- What Happens If You Can’t Pay Medical Bills? 8 Ways To Tackle Medical Debt
- Free Printable Debt Validation Letter Templates [pdf, Word] Medical
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How To Negotiate Medical Bills In Collections
If this sounds like your current situation, or it could be soon, there are steps you can take to reverse course. You don’t have to let medical debt take control of your life, your finances, and your stress level.
Strategies For Negotiating With The Hospital Billing Department
It can hurt your credit score, making it difficult to secure financing for a home or other large purchase. If you neglect your bills long enough, they may be sent to a collection agency, which can lead to daily phone calls from debt collectors. There is also a chance that unpaid medical bills could lead to lawsuits.
Instead of pretending they don’t exist, a better option is to become a student of your medical bills. Study them to make sure the information and figures are accurate. Understand the billing process, payment options, and your rights as a patient. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to pay off your medical debt.
If you have mounting medical bills and are struggling to make payments, know that you have options beyond sending a check or making an online payment for the full amount. Consider trying a few of these before you let your accounts go to collections.
Many medical providers allow you to set up interest-free payment plans for your bills. The terms may vary depending on how much you owe. For example, San Antonio Baptist Health System offers payment terms of up to 36 months for balances over $5,000.
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If more than one person in your immediate family has medical debt, you may be able to consolidate those bills into one payment plan. Be sure to read all the details when setting up your plan. Some may require a down payment or other stipulations.
In addition to payment plans, many medical providers give discounts to patients for paying quickly or on time. According to Todd Christensen, AFCPE®, and Manager of Education at Money Fit, doctors are more than willing to reward quick payment.
“Never hesitate to ask for a discount for the entire upfront payment,” says Christensen, “Officers are more than happy to offer discounts rather than deal with the hassle of dealing with insurance or doing your annual billing. – next.”
Check the bill or speak directly to the provider for prompt payment opportunities. Some providers reserve these types of discounts for self-pay patients without insurance coverage. According to 2018 data from the Census Bureau, 27.5 million people in America do not have health insurance. If you are eligible, in some cases, to pay your bill promptly you can reduce the total amount by 20%.
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In order to qualify for a discount with or without insurance, there is usually a period of time in which payment must be made. Make sure you know what that time frame is and that you can stick to it. If you can’t, you will likely lose your discount.
Another option is to look into financial assistance programs available through your medical care providers. Many hospital systems and other medical professionals have programs designed to help struggling patients pay their medical bills.
There are also state and federal programs that offer free or reduced-cost health care if you qualify. Eligibility requirements vary but may include your place of residence, income, expenses, and other financial factors. The Cleveland Clinic, one of the largest non-profit hospital systems in the country, offers three categories of financial assistance:
If you find yourself in a situation where you are having trouble keeping up with medical bills, call your provider to see what financial assistance programs are available and how to qualify. Medical providers know that there are circumstances that make paying back bills difficult. In many cases, financial aid programs can help.
How To Negotiate Medical Bills And Lab Fees
If you have exhausted other options or need some extra help, hiring a medical bill attorney is the next logical step. They will negotiate with providers on your behalf to reduce your medical bills.
These lawyers are also experts in deciphering medical bills. Your bill may contain errors, or you may be being overcharged for services provided. A lawyer will find those mistakes and may be able to reduce your total bill.
Keep in mind that you will have to pay for the services of a medical billing professional. They may charge an hourly fee or a percentage of the costs they helped recover. Make sure the potential savings you receive outweigh the attorney’s fees before you hire someone.
Organizations like the Medical Billing Advocates of America and the Alliance of Claims Assistance Professionals can connect you with a reputable medical billing attorney.
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Other options available to pay off medical debt include personal loans and 0% APR credit cards. Consider these options only if you encounter a dead-end everywhere else. Personal loans charge interest on your debt, meaning you pay more in the long run.
Credit cards with a 0% introductory APR help in the short term but can make it worse if you can’t pay off your balance during the interest-free introductory period. If you don’t pay your balance or make late payments, you’ll end up paying the regular interest rate and or a higher penalty APR.
Exhaust all other options before considering using a personal loan or credit card to pay off your medical debt. If you think you’ll have trouble making loan or credit card payments, avoid these options.
If you have neglected your medical bills because your debt has become too much to pay, your medical bills will likely be sent to a collection agency. While most doctors and hospitals do not report to the credit bureaus, collection agencies do, and this can have a substantial negative impact on your credit score. Here are some things to do if your medical debt ends up in collections.
What Happens If You Can’t Pay Medical Bills? 8 Ways To Tackle Medical Debt
Leslie Tayne, Financial Attorney and Founder of Tayne Law Group, P.C., says it’s important to know your rights.
According to Tayne, you typically have 30 days from the time you receive your first collection notice to contact the collector and verify the debt in writing. “By doing that,” she says, “you can see exactly what you owe and the details of the debt, while stopping collection calls until they return your claim.”
Consider using one of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s sample letters when contacting the collector.
After you understand your rights, consider negotiating with the collection agency to reduce your debt. Here are some steps Tayne says to use when negotiating with a creditor.
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Know what to give. Take the time to look over your entire account to make sure you actually want what is being asked of you. It is not uncommon for medical bills to have errors, overcharges, or charges for drugs or procedures you did not receive. Tayne advises consumers to “read the fine print and make sure there are no mistakes on the bill. Ask if the matter has been submitted to your insurance company and even consider calling the insurance company to see if the bill is even due.”
Take a realistic look at your financial situation. Be honest with yourself about what you owe and what you can afford. Tayne says to ask yourself what you can reasonably afford to contribute to your medical debt each month. “Don’t agree to a higher number than this when you talk to a creditor,” she advises. “You don’t want to put yourself in a financial situation that’s worse than the one you’re facing right now.”
Call the collector. Now, the real work of negotiating your debt begins. Be prepared to take notes during your call. Write down the date and time of your call and the name of the collection agency representative you speak with. Every detail can be significant. Tayne recommends that “let the collector tell you what he is willing to do before you make the first offer if you want to pay off the debt.” If you throw away the first number, you may be giving them an offer for more than they are willing to settle for.
Having your medical bill debt end up with a collection agency is less than ideal. Do your homework, make a plan, and find a solution that works for you and the creditor. It may take some work, but it is worth the time and effort. Millions of people in the United States have medical debt. It’s particularly easy to fall into because health care in the United States is more expensive than anywhere else in the world, the system is difficult to understand, and pricing for procedures and services is often opaque. . In addition, most of
Free Printable Debt Validation Letter Templates [pdf, Word] Medical
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