Mistakes People Make When Dealing with Medical Debt

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

No one relishes dealing with medical debt. In addition to being relentlessly stressful, unpaid medical bills can have an enormous impact on one’s credit score. Furthermore, if outstanding medical bills are sent to collections, you may ultimately have to worry about going to court. While there’s no denying that medical costs in the U.S. are completely out of control, there’s a right way and wrong way to go about dealing with medical debt. In the interest of minimizing medical debt – and the long-term impacts it stands to have on your life – take care to avoid the following missteps.

Never Seeing Your Regular Doctor 

When it comes to saving money on medical costs, preventative care should be among your foremost priorities. Keeping up with annual physicals and submitting to various tests recommended by your regular doctor can help ensure that potentially large problems are caught when they’re at their most treatable, thus saving you a fortune in long-term care expenses. Although seeing your general practitioner (GP) on a regular basis may entail spending a little bit of money, it’s better to spend a small amount in the short term than a princely sum in the long run. 

So, if you’re currently in need of a regular doctor, there’s no time like the present to begin your search. Buckeye State resident on the hunt for general family medical practice Anderson should have no trouble finding a physician who’s perfectly suited to their healthcare needs.  

Completely Ignoring Medical Bills 

When faced with mounting medical debt, many of us adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” approach and toss various bills and overdue notices in the trash upon receipt. However, while this mindset may provide some comfort in the short term, it can lead to significant problems over time. For example, if you neglect to contact your healthcare provider or make any attempt to pay outstanding bills for an extended period, there’s a good chance your bills will be sent to collections. In extreme cases, you may even find yourself taken to court and sued for the cost of your outstanding debt.

While ignoring pricey medical bills can certainly be tempting, it’s in your best interest to contact your healthcare provider if you’re unable to afford certain bills. If you make it clear that you’re uninsured, underinsured or financially strained, there’s a good chance they’ll forgive a large portion of your debt and/or work out a manageable payment schedule with you. As long as some attempt is being made to settle the debt, you shouldn’t have to worry about having your bills sent to collections.     

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Not Inquiring About Financial Aid 

Although many healthcare providers offer financial aid options to low-income patients, very few of them openly advertise this fact. This effectively places the onus of fact-gathering on the patients, so if you’re curious about what kinds of financial aid options you may be eligible for, you’ll need to contact your provider and make the appropriate inquiries. Should you qualify for financial aid, you may even be eligible for full-on debt forgiveness. In other words, you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking a few simple questions. 

Not Considering Medicaid 

Providing essential medical coverage to millions of Americans, Medicaid is the country’s public health insurance program for low-income individuals. So, if your current financial situations leave much to be desired, there’s a good chance you qualify to receive coverage. However, since the criteria for qualification varies from state to state, it’s recommended that you visit your state’s Medicaid website or speak to a representative at your local welfare office to determine whether you qualify. Additionally, applying for coverage is fairly easy and can generally be done online. If you lack regular access to a working computer, someone at your local welfare office should be more than happy to guide you through the process.  

Medical debt is a problem for millions of Americans. Additionally, while being insured certainly helps, insurance coverage doesn’t necessarily preclude you from incurring medical debt. Still, whether you’re underinsured or lack insurance altogether, there’s no reason to resign yourself to insurmountable medical costs. In the interest of keeping medical debt manageable, make sure to steer clear of the mistakes discussed above. 

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