Written by Spotloan

Healthcare services, while necessary, are often avoided out of fear of incurring unreasonable costs. Considering that healthcare in the United States is more expensive than any other country, this comes as no surprise. 

But the fear of hospital bills should never prevent you from getting the care you need. And employing some creative ways to plan for hospital bills can help you stay healthy without breaking the bank. 

What Happens if You Don’t Pay Your Hospital Bills? 

Before we get into creative ways to tackle medical bills, let’s talk about what happens if you ignore them. For a while, you’ll likely receive reminders via mail, phone call, and email to pay your overdue medical bills. 

If you continue to ignore their correspondence, the hospital or doctor may eventually sell your debt to a collections agency. The collections agency will continue to hound you about paying your bills and may eventually be able to garnish your wages or put a lien on your property. Having accounts in collections will also hurt your credit score. 

As of October 2020, 20 million Credit Karma members held $45 billion of medical debt in collections, with an average of $2,200 per person. This is a situation that no one wants to find themselves in. But if you’re close to collections or already there, don’t panic. 

There are ways to get those bills paid and get your financial health back on level ground. 

Ask About a Payment Plan for your Medical Bills  

One of the best ways to ensure that your medical bills don’t get sent to collections is to set up a payment plan with the billing department. Most hospitals will work with you to break the bill up into multiple equal payments over several months. 

Depending on the facility and the size of the bill, you may even be able to lock in a payment plan spanning a year or more. The first step in tackling unpaid hospital bills should be a phone call to respectfully ask about payment plan options for those who are financially strained. 

Take Advantage of Your HSA Account

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) let you set aside money, pre-tax, to pay for qualified medical expenses. Taking advantage of this type of account can help you pay for medical expenses and save you money if you have a high deductible health plan. 

This is currently considered the most tax-advantaged way to pay for your current and future medical expenses. If you have been paying into one at work, ask your insurance company what types of charges you can use the account for.  

Dispute Incorrect Hospital Billing Information 

Hospital billing departments and individual medical providers are busy and, occasionally, this may cause them to make mistakes. If you’ve found a questionable charge, an inconsistency, or a duplicate charge on one of your bills, try to dispute the error. 

Some examples of common medical billing errors: 

  • Charges for medications that you didn’t take. 
  • Charges for a full extra day when you were discharged in the morning. 
  • Charges for services that you didn’t receive. 

Now, if you’re wondering how to dispute hospital bills, it’s easier than it sounds. Just call the billing department, provide them with your account number or other identifying information, and ask them to review the charge in question. 

Negotiate the Charges 

Most financial planners and advisors will stress the importance of negotiating just about everything, and for good reason. You may be able to get a discount by paying cash, by paying your bill in one lump sum, by providing prompt payment, or by meeting other criteria. 

Every facility is different. Be polite, be patient, and ask what your options are for lowering your bill. If the provider representative refuses to provide any discount, try calling once more at a different time the next day to see if you can get connected with a more sympathetic ear. 

How to Get Help with Hospital Bills 

When negotiating, disputing, and payment plans aren’t enough to help you get caught up on unpaid medical bills, there is another option to consider. Our short-term installment loans offer a convenient way to catch up on expenses like hospital bills. 

Unlike payday loans, you can lock in an agreement that gives you up to 10 full months to pay off your loan. And if you find yourself back on top sooner, we won’t charge you prepayment fees. Apply for a Spotloan here.