Suddenly in Medical Debt? What to Do when You Are Struggling to Cope
Medical debt is a serious issue. We all hear about people trying to pay off credit card bills, mortgages and car payments, but medical bills often are more emotionally stressful because they are usually the result of unforeseen circumstances over which you have no control. If you or a family member suddenly suffers a serious illness or injury, a host of medical expenses start to flow in, often becoming unmanageable. Medical bills are a very serious issue that can cripple your finances. Here are some ways to cope with your medical debt before it takes you to the brink of bankruptcy.
Your Bills Aren’t Going Anywhere, So Stop Ignoring Them
People who are faced with the enormity of their medical debts often react to the situation by completely shutting out the problem and ignoring it, as if the problem isn’t there. Unfortunately, burying your head in the sand isn’t going to make the bills disappear, and can even make the situation worse. Medical practitioners will make every effort to collect on your account. They may even get to a point where they call upon a collection agency to come after you for the money owed, which will then cost you more in interest fees. If it gets to that point, not only will you be owing an increasing amount of money, but your credit report will suffer as well, negatively affecting your chances of borrowing money in the future for credit cards, or even for a mortgage for a home.
See if You Qualify For Medicaid
Medicaid is health insurance provided to those that fall into the lower-income demographic and cannot afford medical care expenses. Each state has a slightly different set of criteria for enrollment, so it’s important to contact your state Medicaid office in order to determine whether or not you qualify for Medicaid assistance. If you are eligible, Medicaid can help you pay for medical expenses that you already owe, so it’s best to apply right away even if you’ve already received medical bills.
Diligently Review Your Medical Bills For Any Errors
It’s not uncommon for medical or hospital bills to have errors and overcharges on them, which is why it’s crucial for you to carefully review the bill to check for any possible mistakes. Make sure the bill outlines services that you actually were given. For hospitals stays, for example, if you were discharged in the morning and were charged for a full-day stay, you may have some merit to protest. Another frequent error that patients often find on their hospital bills are charges for medications that you actually brought with you to the hospital. Dispute any and all items on your bill that you believe are mistakes.
Check to See if Your Medical Expenses Are Tax Deductible
The IRS allows Americans to deduct preventative medical care, treatment, surgeries and dental and vision care as qualifying medical expenses for tax deductions. If any of the treatments you received qualify for tax deductions, you could get some money back on your tax return. If you’ve already filed it and neglected to include such items, file an amendment to your tax return in order to claim your deduction.
It’s a situation that millions of Americans face every day – what to do when medical bills are nearly impossible to pay on time and in full. It seems inhumane for people to have to be fearful of not being able to afford the medical care that they or their family members require. There are, however, ways to help manage such medical debt. If you find yourself struggling to pay your medical debt, Medicaid and tax deductions can help. Be proactive and find solutions to your debt – you might find you owe less than you thought.