Americans should not have to choose between their medical care and keeping their homes, but unfortunately, that is what far too many must do. According to recent studies, as much as 66.5% of bankruptcies occur because of medical issues, and either because of time off work or because of the high cost of care.
If you are one of the many Americans who find yourself on the brink of bankruptcy because of medical debt, you may wonder if there is anything you can do about it. Can you negotiate your debt down or, better yet, settle for less?
Settling your medical debt
According to Experian, the option to settle your medical debt for less does exist. A settlement is a payment arrangement in which you pay more than what you owe and upon which both you and the provider agree.
Settlements are more common than you might think. In fact, before you even approach your provider with an offer, its billing department may have already discussed what they could and would accept. They may have even already extended an offer. If they have, and if the amount is still too high, you may be able to negotiate a still lower amount. If the provider will not accept, it may agree to let you pay in installments.
Initiating the settlement process
If you have not received a settlement offer from your provider’s billing department, you can initiate the process yourself. Before you do, though, look up the cost of healthcare on sites like FAIR Health and Healthcare Bluebook. These resources will tell you how much you should pay for certain services and procedures in your region and elsewhere. You can use these figures as a solid starting point.
To start the process, you may need to fax or mail a letter. You will also have to follow a standard submission process. For the greatest chances of success, seek help at the beginning of the process.