Whether you’ve been impacted by COVID-19 or another unexpected trauma, the high cost of medical care can be overwhelming. Here’s how to get payment relief on medical bills.
The Health and Financial Toll of COVID-19
The global COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on the world economy, but it has hit the healthcare sector especially hard. In the blink of an eye, preexisting cracks in the health system have been revealed. Serious shortages in medical staff, PPE, and severe limits in the number of ICU beds during times of crisis are now our reality.
Whether you have been personally touched by COVID-19 or not, dealing with any sort of trauma is hard enough. But to make bad matters worse, many leave care with a mountain of unpaid bills that can quickly lead to debt. But if you know where to look, there could be a light at end of a medical debt tunnel. Here are three sound strategies to consider.
1. Hospital Specific Financial Aid
Hospitals and medical clinics know better than most the strain of costly medical care. They deal with the high cost of medical care every day and know the struggle that uninsured and underinsured patients face when paying for their services.
As a result, many hospitals and medical facilities have established financial aid programs, designed to help their patients afford care. The qualifications for these programs vary, and applicants may need to meet a number of income and asset-based criteria. Even so, it is always worth asking about such policies.
In a best-case scenario, qualifying patients could have their medical bills deferred, reduced, or even forgiven. If financial aid isn’t available, or if you don’t meet the criteria, here are some other options to get payment relief on medical bills.
2. Payment Plans
Paying a large hospital bill or other medical expenses all at once is difficult for most households. When you open the mail and find a four, five, or even 6 figure bill, your first reaction will likely be panic. But do not despair, other forms of payment help could be available.
In fact, many providers are willing to set up payment plans, often at a low rate of interest or even on an interest-free basis for qualifying patients. These plans may require a credit check (see your $0 credit score). You should also be mindful of the cost of interest (if applied) over time.
If you are facing a large medical expense, contact the provider right away and ask about available payment plans. If a payment plan is available, you can hopefully work out an affordable schedule together. Ideally, one that pays off what you owe in a reasonable amount of time without forcing undue sacrifices on yourself and your family.
3. Government Help
When Medicare was first enacted, it served as a financial safety net for senior citizens to afford medical care. The passage of the Affordable Care Act more than half a century later was another step forward, allowing millions of uninsured individuals to obtain health coverage.
These government programs were designed to help, but gaps remain in the system, and many patients are not getting the financial help they need. Now that the global pandemic has pushed our medical needs to the brim, a number of state governments have stepped up with programs of their own. Some of these programs are aimed at young people, while others help low-income households and other groups.
Programs like Medicaid, CHIP (children’s health insurance program), and assistance with prescription drug costs are available to help eligible applicants. To learn more about government-specific programs, visit USA.gov’s ‘help with bills’ page.
Each of the strategies above could be a game-changer to get payment relief on your medical debt. But it is important to realize that even if you work directly with your local medical facility, set up a payment plan, or sign up for a government program, you may still have to pay all or part of your medical costs. However, the sooner you look into your options, the better off you, and your wallet will be.
Disclaimer: The content provided is for informational purposes only and not to give advice or guidance on credit improvement. ScoreShuttle is not associated with any hospital, medical group, or government agency. ScoreShuttle does not review, provide, or guarantee medical bill payment relief of any kind. Always be sure to do your own research on the medical payment relief options that are right for you.