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Health & Family

How to Deal with Medical Debt and Unplanned Health Care Expenses

man has MRI

Despite the fact that nothing is more important than your health, you may have some concerns about getting hit with an extremely expensive bill for an unplanned medical situation.

According to a 2016 report published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a large number of Americans have run into trouble dealing with medical debt. In fact, the report says:

  • 26 percent of Americans ages 18-64 say they or someone in their household had trouble paying medical bills in the past 12 months.

When you take into consideration how many adults are in this age group, you can see why 20% of people have medical debt.

Is Health Insurance the Solution for Medical Debt?

You hope to never run into a serious medical problem. And while health insurance can cover a significant portion of your medical expenses, there are a number of uncovered procedures that may be important to your well-being.

The Kaiser Family Foundation report says that health insurance doesn’t necessarily protect a person from medical debt.

It notes that approximately 20 percent of people with health insurance through an employer report problems paying medical bills. This number is slightly higher – 22 percent – for those who purchase their own policy.

So, while health insurance is a good jumping off point, you can’t assume it’ll protect you 100 percent against future medical debt.

Other Ways to Deal with Health Care Expenses

It’s your hope that your health insurance policy covers all or most of your medical expenses. If this happens, there’s less chance of being presented with a bill you can’t afford to pay.

Unfortunately, your policy may not provide as much coverage as you would like or expect. For this reason, it’s possible to find yourself unexpectedly buried in medical debt.

Before this happens, it makes sense to plan for the worst. Here are a few of the best ways to deal with unplanned 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 include things such as car repairs, home repairs and maintenance, and helping a loved one who has fallen on tough times. You won’t want to use this money to pay for medical debt, but it’s good to know it’s available should the need arise.
  • Negotiate with the provider. It may not get you anywhere, but don’t hesitate to contact the provider on the phone to discuss your bill. You may find they’re willing to accept less than what you owe if you can immediately send a lump sum payment. Also, review your bill in great detail, paying close attention to the charges. It’s possible you could find a charge that shouldn’t be there.
  • Setup a payment plan. If you don’t have enough money in the bank and the provider won’t negotiate on the final bill, you can always setup a payment plan. With this, you make small payments, month after month, until your balance is paid in full.

What About a Personal Loan for Medical Debt?

For those who don’t have an emergency fund, a personal loan may be the best way to deal with unplanned health care expenses.

The nice thing about this type of loan is that you can apply and receive funds (if approved) within a matter of days.

If you find yourself faced with mounting health care expenses, consider the many ways of dealing with this in a timely manner.