Medical expenses have become a leading cause of personal bankruptcy in America. Even with health insurance, millions of people struggle daily to pay unexpected and costly medical bills. YouCaring is here to help you manage extreme financial stress and hardship resulting from an onslaught of costly medical expenses. We want to answer your questions about medical bankruptcy and offer a helping hand.
Medical bankruptcy is more common than you may think. With a barrage of medical bills, people can find themselves suddenly buried in debt. The actual medical bill itself is only the beginning when it comes to medical expenses, since out-of-pocket payments often amount to significant sums. Paying these bills can mean agonizing over liquidating assets set aside for other purposes, such as college tuition, retirement, and home equity. When those resources are depleted, bankruptcy is the only remaining option.
Medical Bankruptcy Changes Your Life
Sliding into medical bankruptcy can begin with a life-threatening diagnosis or unexpected accident that lands you or a loved one in the hospital. As financial costs begin to build, you may start to feel helpless. Every day can bring more stress and physical discomfort, with a desire for some relief. Trying to make ends meet can seem insurmountable, as medical bills take priority over other daily expenses and disrupt your long-term budget.
Medical debt can drastically change the way you and your loved ones live. The Kaiser Foundation released a report that showed how people experience changes to their lifestyle when facing medical bankruptcy. These changes include cutting spending back on food, clothing, and household items; working more hours or getting a second job; drawing down on long-term savings accounts; borrowing money from friends or family; increasing credit card debt; and even take out a second mortgage on a home. And, approximately three out of four nonelderly adults reported foregoing necessary health care, because they were facing problems paying medical bills, according to Urban Institute’s report.
Medical Insurance Is Not a Buffer for Bankruptcy
Even with health insurance, people can face an avalanche of financial trouble caused by out-of- pocket expenses – which health plans do not cover – and expensive monthly premiums. In 2015, the Kaiser Foundation released a study indicating that employees are paying 83 percent more in premiums than they were in 2005, a growth rate unmatched by their salaries. This has lead to a large number of underinsured people, who struggle with similar financial issues that imperil the uninsured.
Tips to Avoid Medical Bankruptcy
1. Don’t Ignore Your Bills
You may be overwhelmed by the incoming medical bills, but don’t throw them under the rug. It’s important to notify hospitals, health providers and insurers if you think a payment might be late or if you’d like to set up a payment plan. Paying a portion of your bill, even if it’s a small amount, is still better than making no payment at all. If you do not have the funds available to make your payments on time, ask about financial assistance programs that may be available to you.
2. Pay Attention to Your Bills
It’s important to always ask for an itemized statement to look for billing errors. These are extremely common and could end up costing you thousands if you don’t pay attention to every detail. Make sure that any payments from your insurance company have been applied to your bill. If you have questions about your bills, don’t be afraid to call your medical provider and ask.
3. Don’t Use Credit Cards
Avoid using credit cards to pay for your medical expenses due to high fees and interest rates. If you’re admitted to the hospital and your only form of payment is a credit card, don’t use it. The hospital cannot deny you medical treatment, it’s illegal to do so. And you can work out an alternative form of payment with the hospital or your healthcare provider, rather that maxing out your credit cards and spiraling further into debt.
4. Negotiate a Lower Rate
This may seem like a daunting task, but it’s certainly one that’s well worth trying. Call the billing office for your health provider and ask if they’d accept a lower rate for your care. They may not return your calls right away. And you may hear “no” a few times. So try calling back again or ask to talk to a supervisor instead. If your negotiation is successful, it’s important that you stick to the plan. Don’t falter on payments or you may be stuck with the full amount again.
5. Crowdfund to Pay Your Medical Bills
Crowdfunding has proven to be a very effective way to raise funds quickly from family, friends or even strangers that want to show their support. Creating an online fundraiser gives you an outlet to tell your story to the world, easily share your campaign via social media networks, raise the needed funds to ease your stress, and ultimately help you from falling into medical debt.
Crowdfunding Your Medical Expenses
Crowdfunding enables anyone to financially capitalize on the interconnectivity of the Internet. With the surge of people facing unaffordable medical bills – whether they have medical insurance or not – crowdfunding for medical expenses has become popular and highly successful. You can reach out to potential donors via your social networks to seek funds for meaningful causes. If you or a loved one is in need of help to alleviate the financial burden caused by medical bills, you can create a free fundraiser now and start raising money today.