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Better Ways to Handle Medical Debt

By: Michael Millington

In recent years medical debt has seen an increase, taking its place as the greatest amount of debt in the average household (overtaking things like credit card debt and personal loan debt. The worst thing about medical debt is how quickly it can take over your financial situation as soon as it pops up, A trait unique to medical debt is that it generally comes in one lump sum (oftentimes due to a one-time stay or procedure).

In a study conducted by the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, it has been found that those who have the most issue paying their medical bills are those who make less than $50,000 a year. This might not come as a surprise that those who make less are worse equipped to handle medical bills. However, there are ways to handle overwhelming or even regular debt if you don’t make more than $50,000.

Be Sure Of Your Doctor Visits

While we in no way condone going to the doctor less than necessary, it can be said of some that unnecessary visits are made. According to those who participated in the study, 65% listed doctor visits and tests as some of the leading causes their medical bills are so high. Should you need a test, you’ll have no choice but to take it. However, see if you can circumvent an actual doctor’s visit if you can. It might not always be necessary to see your primary care doctor. Sometimes a simple phone call explaining any symptoms can suffice. If, from your description, your doctor can advise you on what to do next (even if it is to come in). In any case, this method can help you save on unnecessary trips to your doctor’s office.

Check Your Insurance Coverage

One of the most important parts of taking care of medical bills is to know how much is covered by your insurance plan (if you have insurance). Knowing what your insurance covers can help you understand what you can and cannot afford. The problem with medical issues is that you might not always have a choice in whether you can accept the care or not. This, unfortunately, is what leads most people into medical debt in the first place. If you have no choice it can be difficult to avoid debt in certain circumstances.

Know of (and Monitor) Existing Conditions

Keeping up with your medical condition is paramount in the event you find your finances hurting. One thing that can cost you more money is the worsening of your conditions. Yes, this can happen naturally and (as mentioned before) might not have any way around it. The point of this is to make sure you don’t needlessly incur extra cost to yourself. Regardless of the type of debt you’re dealing with, vigilance is key to mitigating the amount of debt you have.