Know what your bills entailRequest itemized invoices for any medical procedures you’ve had recently, and review them carefully. If you feel there are mistakes or errors, such as double billing or errant charges, go over them with a representative from your hospital’s billing department. If you believe your health insurance should have paid off more of your medical debt, talk to a representative from your health insurance provider.
Be up front if you’re having trouble paying down your medical debtIt’s important to be fairly transparent with your medical provider if you’re having trouble paying, or you know you need procedures that you can’t afford. Let them know as soon as possible, don’t wait until they threaten to send your debts to collections.Some bills are negotiable and sometimes special funding or payment arrangements can be made to assist people who are experiencing financial hardships, or living at or below the poverty line.
If you can’t negotiate your debt, negotiate your paymentsOne of the best budget tips for dealing with any type of debt is always try to negotiate. It’s in a hospital’s best interest to collect money directly from you, instead of sending your debt to a collections agency. Ask your hospital’s billing department representative if you can reduce your payment to a number that better fits your budget. You may be able to make minimal monthly payments and pay a larger debt off over time.
See if you’re eligible for Medicaid, CHIP, or Medicare
Medicaid provides free or low-cost health coverage to low-income individuals and families. Your household size and income, as well as other factors like age and disability status will determine your eligibility. If you make too much money to be eligible for Medicaid, then your children may qualify for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), which offers low-cost healthcare coverage for children, and in select states, for parents and pregnant women. You can learn more about Medicaid and CHIP at Healthcare.gov, and you can determine your eligibility for Medicaid here. Medicare is widely known as a health coverage program for people over 65, but it also offers coverage to those who suffer from disabilities and select long-term illnesses. You can find all the information you need about Medicare (including whether or not you need to apply for it) at Medicare.gov.
If you’d like more budget tips to help ease the burden of personal debt, or more information about the financial aspects of living with a disability, or creating an emergency fund, be sure to consult the Protective Learning Center.