It’s fair to say that a majority of Americans know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, barely paying off bills each month, and unable to put money into savings. Even if you’re able to make it month to month, one extra unforeseen expense — a car repair or medical bill, say — could send you into a debt spiral.
In the case of an overwhelming medical bill, there are options for making payments, and assistance for those who are willing to ask for it. If you’re faced with huge medical expenses, don’t panic: there are ways to get it handled. Consider the following three strategies when faced with huge and unanticipated bills.
1. Avoid adding further medical debts
People make many common mistakes with medical bills that can send them into even more debt than they started with. In the case of any sort of bill, it’s essential never to ignore payment deadlines and to check statements for errors. Believe it or not, debt collectors are just as prone to human error as anyone else.
Learning as much about the payments and your rights, and asking questions (and knowing which information to trust) is the best way to avoid amassing extra debt and find the best way to pay off your medical bills.
2. Insist on talking to a real person
It may take some time and patience on the phone, but getting hold of a real person, negotiating payments, and setting up a reasonable payment plan is in everyone’s best interests. They get their money and you aren’t overwhelmed by an unpayable amount each month.
You can do this at any stage of the payment process, whether at the beginning or along the way. The biggest lesson is not to be afraid to ask for help; there are options out there for anyone in any situation, and there’s no shame in requesting assistance.
3. Find your way through the Social Security Administration
There is a lot of guidance available for people struggling with medical bills, if they know where to look. When you’re severely injured and unable to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Understanding who qualifies and how to apply for federal assistance is the first step toward getting the financial support that could make those overwhelming medical bills a little more manageable.