When Medical Bills Get Out of Control, These Options Can Help

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated February 2, 2021

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April 22, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Medical debt forces hundreds of thousands of Americans a year to file for bankruptcy. With the high cost of healthcare, average people cannot afford to pay for the treatments their lives depend on.

When medical bills get out of control, you do have some options, though. Before you go bankrupt, make sure you explore these four opportunities.

If your health insurance policy has a deductible over $1,300, you can sign up for a health savings account (HSA) that helps you avoid taxes and pay for your healthcare.

The government doesn’t tax money that you contribute to your HSA, so you automatically save some money. You also avoid taxes when you withdraw funds to pay for medications, doctor visits, surgeries, and other qualifying expenses.

Additional, you can earn money from your HSA because the cash you add gets invested in stocks, mutual funds, and other vehicles.

In 2019, individuals can put up to $3,500 into their HSA accounts. Families can add up to $7,000.

Many healthcare providers offer payment plans that make services more affordable for patients. Before getting an expensive procedure, talk to the hospitals and physicians in your area to find out which ones use payment plans.

Spreading out your payments over several months or years can make out-of-control medical bills reasonable. Make sure you ask the providers whether they charge financing fees or interest.

Medical credit cards usually give you between 6 months and a year before they start charging interest. If your service provider doesn’t offer a payment plan, then a medical credit card is your next-best option.

Medical credit cards can have high interest rates after their introductory periods. Some even defer interest payments until after the grace period. With deferred interest, interest accumulates during the grace period. If you don’t repay the entire amount before the interest-free period ends, then you can get stuck with a bill that’s even larger than your original medical debt.

As long as you have a good credit score and collateral, you can get a personal loan to pay your medical bills.

Personal loans can charge high interest rates. Compare as many offers as possible to make sure you get a low rate that helps you save money. Otherwise, you might find that using a personal loan only delays your financial problems. See our comparison of the best online loan sites to find the lowest rates and best terms for your situation.

Whether you owe $1,000 or $100,000, take medical bills seriously. The sooner you address them, the sooner you can get them under control.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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