4 min read

Woman reviewing prescription bottles.

Your health is your life; it wouldn’t be surprising if you felt you need to spend whatever it takes to maintain it. At the same time, it’s really stressful to get a bill for medical procedures not covered by insurance.

Your health can have a far-reaching physical and emotional impact. Paying for healthcare can add anxiety. In fact, A national survey conducted by Discover® Personal Loans found that financial stress impacts how Americans seek and pay for medical care.*  Surprise medical bills amplify the financial stress and are quite common. According to a survey from the Federal Reserve, 20% of U.S. adults experienced major, unexpected medical expenses in 2021.1 And medical expenses in general rose 5.3%.2

Medical bills, whether anticipated or not, can be challenging to navigate. You need to figure out which procedures will be covered by your insurance, how to pay your medical bills, and where to turn for help. The good news is there are a number of financial tools to help you manage your medical debt.

What medical procedures can you expect to be covered by insurance?

Coverage plans from employers or private insurance can vary, but you can use the Health Insurance Marketplace as an example of what may be covered by health insurance. Preventative services such as screenings and physicals usually have some form of coverage, as do emergency services.

While your doctor may suggest a procedure or treatment as necessary, your health insurance could categorize it as nonessential. Depending on your insurance, this could include Lasik or plastic surgery, hearing aids, liposuction, acupuncture, and hair transplants.

With this in mind, it’s good to do some research ahead of time. Check with your health insurance company before scheduling any procedure. This will give you a clear idea whether you’ll be covered or responsible for a portion or all of the cost.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Does your insurance offer any kind of financial assistance? Can your doctor coordinate with other providers? Could multiple procedures be combined into a single event to save money on anesthesia costs, operating room expenses, and recovery time in the hospital?

You hope to never run into a serious medical problem. But while health insurance can cover a significant portion of your medical expenses, you can’t assume it’ll protect you against all future medical debt. If you are in debt and need help paying medical bills, you still have options such as payment plans, personal loans for medical bills, and more. 

Dealing with medical debt

If you’re uninsured or your health insurance doesn’t fully cover your bills, you’ll be responsible for the remainder. This could result in medical debt, which can add up quickly.

So, how do you pay for something that’s important to you when the costs are high and insurance doesn’t cover it?

First, find out what you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket. If your doctor’s office has an insurance coordinator, they can be an excellent resource. You’ll also want to call your insurance company yourself. Once you understand your coverage and personal financial responsibilities, it’s time to make a plan. Check your budget to see if your medical bills fit within it or stretch it. It’s best to have a clear financial picture when creating a budget, especially when you need to add medical expenses.

Here are a few other ways to help manage health care expenses:

  • Start an emergency fundThe money you save in this account is to be used for emergencies only. In addition to medical debt, this can pay for other unpleasant surprises such as car or home repairs. It’s a comfort to have funds available when you need them.
  • Negotiate with your providers. Don’t hesitate to contact your medical and insurance providers to discuss your bill. They may be willing to accept less than what you owe if you can immediately send a lump-sum payment. Also, review your bill and insurance Explanation of Benefits (EOB) in great detail. Medical bills can have errors so you need to look for discrepancies,
  • Setup a payment plan. If you don’t have enough money in the bank and the providers won’t negotiate on the final bill, you can always setup a payment plan. uses
  • Apply for a personal loan for medical bills. Personal loans have many uses, and paying medical bills is among them. You may find that a personal loan is a better choice than a higher-interest credit card, or that it allows you to access that discount for paying in full.

More on using personal loans for paying medical bills

In the end, taking care of your health is the most important benefit of paying your medical bills. Using a personal loan can be a valuable tool to relieve financial stress, get your doctors paid, and focus on your own healing.

Applying for a personal loan doesn’t take long and we have step-by-step guides available online to help you gather the information you need.

The money can be sent as early as the next business day if you’re approved for and accept the loan. You’ll lock in a fixed rate, and you’ll have a set regular monthly payment.

With Discover Personal Loans, you can even estimate your loan payments based on your credit score and loan amount so that you can build a smart budget to tackle your financial debt.Estimate Payments

About Survey: A national survey of 1,521 U.S. residents ages 18 and up was commissioned by Discover and conducted by Dynata (formerly Research Now/SSI), an independent research firm, between May 18 and May 30, 2022. The maximum margin of sampling error was +/-3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

1 https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2021-report-economic-well-being-us-households-202205.pdf

2 https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cesan.nr0.htm