75 Million Americans Have Unpaid Medical Bills
Struggling with medical debt? You are not alone. Recent studies suggest that as many as 75 million Americans have unpaid medical bills. In fact, medical debt has surpassed many other types of debt and become the most common type of debt in the United States.
Why has medical debt become such a major financial problem for many? What can be done if you have found yourself saddled with bills that are too high?
How Is Medical Debt Different?
Many people may find themselves facing major medical debt when they would not have otherwise incurred debt at all because medical problems often occur quite unexpectedly and can lead to very high bills in a very short period of time. Also, because of the fact that medical procedures for which bills are incurred are not optional, a person may find themselves with no choice but to incur debt.
Many types of medical debt are incurred when a person faces an emergency situation wherein their health and even life is at stake. Some medical debt may also occur because of the fact that a hospital bill contains errors, which may or may not have been caught by a patient.
This can happen quite often because patients may not fully understand their bill and have not received adequate clarification about what the items on their bill mean. If a person does understand that there are errors on their bill, they may simply not pay it, allowing the bill to go to collections rather than having it be properly resolved.
What Leads To Medical Debt?
Recently, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, has granted affordable access to healthcare to a large number of individuals who may otherwise not have been able to afford health insurance. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, many people in the United States did not carry health insurance and were thus subject to high out of pocket expenses in the event that they needed to visit the doctor, hospital, or emergency room.
Even though many more people now carry health insurance, there are a number of people struggling with bills that they received prior to being insured.
What You Should Do If You Are Struggling WIth Medical Debt
If you are overwhelmed with very large bills, you should know that there are resources available to you and actions that you can take. The first thing you should do, if possible, is to always communicate with your doctor or hospital’s billing department and ask them any questions you may have about your bill.
If there is an item that is confusing to you or which you believe appears in error, ask for clarification and explain to the billing department why you think the bill is incorrect. If a bill you have received is too high for you to reasonably pay, express this as well. Ask if there is any type of payment plan that you can be set up on.
You may also want to consider offering a cash settlement of the bill, in the event that you have enough cash available to you to make a reasonable payment on your bill. If you can at all avoid it, you should never allow a medical bill to go to collections.
If your bill has already gone to collections, there are still steps you can take to resolve it. Talk to the representative at the collection agency and see if there is a payment plan they can set you up on. You may also want to research third party loan agencies, which may be able to lend you the money you need to be paid off at a lower rate.