Receiving a large medical bill can really put you in a difficult situation. You might be wondering what you can do, if anything. You don’t want your credit score to be ruined and you don’t want to have creditors on your back. But the good news is that you do have options.
Let’s say you just received a bill for $3,500 and it’s due in full within 3 months. You know you’re not going to be able to pay it on time. So what are your options? Rather than panicking or ignoring the bill, this is the time to take action. Be proactive about the situation and you just might get a break on your bill.
Give the hospital a call. There should be a phone number on your bill. Let them know you want to talk to someone about your bill. Your call will then be transferred to the correct department. Once you’re talking with the finance department reference the bill so the person on the other end can see what you’re seeing. Once you’re at this stage, now it’s time to tell them that you will not be able to pay this bill off on time.
The next step is to let them know why you cannot pay the bill. Try and make the other person on the line realize that you are a human being, rather than just an account number. Be honest and explain your situation. You can tell them you live on a fixed income. You can tell them you couldn’t work due to your illness. You can also tell them you were under the impression that your insurance was going to be able to cover most or all of the expenses. By giving these excuses, the other person will at the very least understand your situation. This will hopefully establish that you’re an honest hard working person who just ran into unexpected medical expenses.
Make An Offer
Now you have to let them know that you really do want to pay this bill. Make them an offer that works out for both parties. Ask them if you can make 10 monthly payments of $350 in order to pay off your $3,500 bill. They will still get their money and you get to pay your bill within 10 months interest-free. If they don’t agree to this, ask them what they can do for you. Whatever they offer you is certainly better than a $3,500 bill due in 90 days.
But what if you can’t pay your bill, not even with a favorable payment plan? If this is your situation, you’re going to have to try and negotiate with them to lower your bill. This is easier said than done though. If you just received your bill and you want them to drop your $3,500 payment down to let’s say $3,000, dream on. The hospital will not want to negotiate with you unless they think they’re not getting a dime out of you unless they make a deal.
So if you want your bill to be lowered you’ll have to be delinquent on your bill first. Once you are late on making your payment you can contact the hospital again and negotiate your debt. If you haven’t paid a dime in months the hospital may be more willing to accept a lower amount. In their eyes, it’s better to get something than nothing at all. The downside is that this delinquency will appear on your credit report. But if your goal is to reduce your debt this option may be right for you.