Dealing with medical debt is one of the most challenging financial situations one can have to deal with. For folks without medical insurance, even small illnesses or injuries can create a financial crisis. Even with insurance, co-pays and deductibles can cause astronomical bills for the average person. Research shows that 53% of Americans with medical debt have no other debt. This tells us that people with previously good financial standing can find themselves in a situation where medical debt accumulates faster than their ability to pay it. Here are some tips for helping you navigate and resolve outstanding medical debt.
Medical Bill Collection with Your Provider
Everyone has experienced the “sticker shock” of receiving that first bill from the doctor or hospital. These bills can inspire panic, but it’s important not to worry too much right away. If you didn’t receive a detailed invoice, you should call the office immediately to request one. Once you have that, you can consult resources like the Healthcare Bluebook. This resource can give you a clearer idea of what the cost should be for specific procedures. Uninsured patients are often billed at a higher rate than insurance companies, so you can try to negotiate your bill down by asking for the same rate they get.
The most important thing to do when you are dealing with outstanding medical bills is to stay in communication with your doctor’s office or hospital billing department. Many doctor’s offices and hospitals will work with you on a payment plan that you can live with. If you continue to make payments on time and return calls and emails, that will help your provider keep your debt in house for as long as possible. If you fall behind on payments , stop communicating, or if the doctor’s office or hospital doesn’t have the capacity to continue billing efforts on their own, they may refer your debt to a collection agency.
Medical Debt Collection Agencies
There is no shame in having your medical bills referred to a collection agency. Many medical offices and hospitals send their outstanding debts to collections quickly, simply because they lack the training and resources to handle them efficiently. Even though collection agencies have a bit of a bad reputation, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions too quickly with your debt collector. Remember, it is in their best interest to make sure you pay your debt, so they are most likely to treat you with respect and work with you to find a mutually beneficial resolution. However, it is still a good idea to protect yourself and keep good records. Here are some things you can do make sure you are being treated fairly:
- If you haven’t received it already, ask for a validation notice.
- If it’s legal, record calls with debt collectors. In many places, you can record a phone call without consent from the other party.
- Keep a record of how often and what times collectors call you. There are laws protecting against excessive calls and calls outside reasonable hours.
- Let them know your contact preferences. They can communicate with you in other ways than by phone.
- Make your payments and negotiate where you can.
Southwest Recovery Services is Here to Help
If you have received a notice that your medical debt has been referred to Southwest Recovery Services, we are ready to help. We can work with you on payment plans that fit your budget. We can help you get your debt paid so you can move on with your life and keep your financial future intact. Get in touch with us today to get started!