Medical debt forced 23% of consumers to have a credit card balance
Are you in the same boat?
Medical debt is something that many consumers are forced to deal with. Unfortunately, having health insurance does not eliminate the risk of accumulating it.
A good 53% of U.S. consumers say the pandemic has pushed them into new medical debt, according to a new survey from Discover Personal Loans. What’s even more troubling is that among those with medical debt, 23% say they’ve been forced to make only their minimum credit card payments rather than paying off those balances in full.
A credit card balance can be costly when interest starts to accumulate over time. It could also lead to damage to the credit score.
And that’s not the only consequence of medical debt. For some, owing too much money on health care bills could mean falling behind on other expenses and missing major goals. In addition, medical debt can be a significant source of stress.
It is for this reason that it is best to avoid medical debts when possible. Obviously, in many cases this is easier said than done. But there are steps you can take to avoid medical debt or reduce the amount you get.
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1. Check your insurance benefits before seeking treatment
Sometimes a simple mishap on your part can cause your health insurance company to deny a health care claim. If you need to get a referral from your primary care provider to see a specialist, for example, and you don’t do this, you could end up with a very expensive bill.
This is why it is a good idea to check your benefits before seeking treatment. If you can’t get the information you need online, call your insurer and speak with a live representative about your specific plans and concerns.
2. Take a close look at your medical bills
People who submit medical claims from healthcare providers are not foolproof. Sometimes all it takes is a simple billing code error to dismiss an insurance claim, leaving you with a giant bill.
Before paying your medical bills, take a good look at them and make sure everything looks okay. If you are charged an amount that appears to be wrong, call your supplier and ask for an explanation.
Also, if your health insurance company rejects a claim you expected them to pay for, dig up the associated bills and ask for an explanation of your benefits. You may find that a claim was rejected due to an incorrect procedure code, and a simple correction saves you from paying hundreds of dollars.
3. Negotiate with suppliers
Sometimes you can incur health costs that you will have to pay out of pocket. If you know you’ll take the note solo, talk about it. You never know when a vendor might be willing to cut your costs or at least develop a flexible payment plan that allows you to spread your financial obligation over an extended period of time.
Medical debt can be one of the main causes of personal bankruptcy and apparently it can lead to credit card debt as well. Credit card debt might not be as extreme as declaring bankruptcy, but it’s still a fate worth avoiding. It’s worth doing whatever you can to avoid medical debt in the first place.