Monday, August 10, 2020

Disease-Free But In Debt? Ways to Pay Off Medical Debt After COVID-19 and Other Conditions

covid-19 medical expenses
The COVID-19 crisis has affected every area of our lives--not only our health, but also our finances. If you’re someone who has gone through getting sick with COVID-19 or other illness that required hospitalization, your burden may even be heavier. NBC news reported that many patients received unexpected medical bills after recovering from the novel virus, as their documents state several out-of-pocket expenses not covered by their policies.

The case isn’t isolated with COVID-19 patients. With hundreds of thousands of insurance claims during this challenging time, a lot of companies are trying to keep up fulfilling these policies. Even after COVID-19 recovery, many families and individuals are faced with out-of-pocket medical debt, on top of unemployment, and other personal struggles related to the effects of the pandemic.

Thankfully, there are ways to be strategic in your finances when trying to pay off medical expenses. Below are some tips that could help.

Ensure mistake-free medical bill

Have you received a medical bill that made you fall off your chair, literally? Perhaps it is time to reassess the balance and confirm if the bill is accurate. Since there is a surge of patients for COVID-19 along with others being treated for non-related conditions, there may be cases where some of the input in people’s bills was a mistake.

Read through your balances and check the procedures and medications provided, and see if there is anything unclear. You can call the billing department of your hospital to ask for a re-calculation or clarification if there’s a particular matter to be settled.

Reconfirm your insurance coverage

If you have a health plan, it is ideal to read through your policy again and look for information about the coverage you have for the condition. Some insurance companies may need extra clarification about the treatments or medications you took, which turns out to be covered by your policy. The federal government is even asking insurance companies to be more transparent about the policies they offer to avoid confusion with clients.

To settle matters, you may call your insurance provider and ask about the non-covered items in your medical bill. Given the right information, they may consider to cover some of the expenses which are actually stated in your policy, but were missed when preparing your out-of-pocket bill.

Don’t use credit cards

Tempted to pay off your medical debt using credit cards? It may not be the best option. Many cases happen where people get into a never-ending cycle of credit card debt with high interest, and you don’t want to be in that situation.

What are some of the disadvantages of paying through credit card?

  • High-interest payments: A lot of credit card companies have staggeringly high interest annually. If you cannot realistically pay the rates, do not give in settling for a credit card debt.
  • Affects your credit score: Having unpaid credit card debt lowers your credit score, even making it more difficult to secure a low-interest payment plan.
  • Other options for medical debt: Unlike other types of debt, medical bills are more negotiable and flexible by nature. You can use no interest or low-interest payment options, so it is ideal to explore more routes.

Choose no interest or low-interest payment plans

Having access to healthcare is a basic human right. Thus, it is justified that medical debt should be paid with no interest or low-interest rates as much as possible. There are several options you can choose from when looking for an affordable medical debt payment plan:

Hospital or healthcare facility offer

Your own hospital or healthcare facility may have payment options that are interest-free or longer terms that make monthly payments more realistic. An article published in Modern Healthcare revealed that some major hospital networks offer a wider level of financial assistance for patients that fit eligibility requirements.

If your medical bills overwhelm you, it is best to get in touch with your hospital or healthcare facility if they have any affordable payment plans.

Interest-free financing companies

There are also other financing companies that specialize in medical bills. They have payment plans which are interest-free for a period of time, making it possible for you to pay medical debt as affordably as possible.

In fact, you can use these financing options not just for COVID-19 hospitalizations, but for other healthcare facilities such as rehabs for alcoholics and urgent care centers.

Personal loans

Taking out a personal loan can be done for a variety of reasons, such as covering out-of-pocket medical expenses. The great thing about this type of financing is the flexibility and the amount of companies offering this option. If you have a good credit score, there is a higher chance that you’ll secure a low-interest personal loan plan.

However, if you have a less-than-stellar credit score, there are still ways to secure affordable personal loan options. You can compare rates and see which one fits your budget depending on your credit score.

Paying Off Medical Debt? You Can Do It!

Paying off out-of-pocket medical expenses may be challenging, but using these strategies can make this undertaking so much easier. Make sure to clarify your bill, negotiate with your insurance provider and explore affordable options to get the best payment plan.

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