The United States of America is one of those countries where medical bills get really high. Hence, many people are unable to pay their bills. The problem of medical debt is so high in the United States that it has become the biggest source of debt collection. What happens if you don’t pay medical bills? – There are many things you can do, but it depends on what situation you are in.
In this article, you will learn about various situations that can happen if you do not pay your medical bills. However, before that, we will take a look at why many people in the United States fail to pay their medical bills in the first place. Finally, we will share with you some tips that you can follow on what to do if you face problems paying your medical bills. Hence, to learn more about this problem, read on through to the end of the article.
Medical Bills – Why Many People Fail To Pay It?
No one wants medical debt, as being unable to afford necessary healthcare is a really stressful situation. However, it is not a problem that only you are facing. No need to be ashamed of that because it is not your personal failure.
The collective medical debt in the US is $111 billion, as per a 2022 survey by CPFB. Although it fell in the last four years, it is still very high. Not even credit cards, auto loans, and utilities come even close to medical debt when it comes to debt collection in the United States.
There are mainly two reasons behind the problem of the growing medical debt in the United States. These are:
1. Lack of Insurance.
2. A steadily increasing healthcare cost.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Medical Bills?
According to MediFind.com,
“While medical debt is enough to make you want to curl into a ball and ignore the calls and letters from the parties trying to collect—the worst thing you can do is ignore the debt. This is not one of those things that will go away on its own.”
Hence, we recommend you to get help to negotiate with the healthcare provider. Here are some of the things that can happen if you do not pay your medical bills.
1. The Hospital Sends The Bill To A Collections Agency
If a hospital is unable to collect a bill, it sells the debt to a collection agency. Then things will get annoying, as you will start receiving several phone calls, emails, and even visits, as the collector will try to make you pay.
2. The Collections Agency’s Report Ruins Your Credit Score
Debt collection agencies will report your default to credit bureaus. This will then lower your credit score.
3. There Is A Likelihood Of Getting Sued
The hospital might sue you if they are unable to collect on your debt. Then, you will need to fight an expensive lawsuit.
4. You Can Face Wage Garnishment
Wage garnishment is a situation where you will need to pay from your wages. A large portion of your wages will go to the place where you owe money.
What To Do If You Cannot Pay Your Medical Bills?
According to Investopedia,
“When healthcare bills start piling up, it’s important to be proactive rather than ignoring the situation. If you’re faced with medical debt you can’t pay, try these tips for reducing what you owe so you can minimize the effect of your bills on your finances, health, and future.”
Here are the major steps you can take if you are facing problems with your medical bills:
1. Check For Errors In The Bill
In many cases, medical bills contain errors because there is a high risk of the apparent mistakes.
Here, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends –
“Look for billing errors like being charged for the same service or treatment twice. If you are unsure, talk to the accounting or billing office of your provider. Their number and contact information will be on the billing statement. You want to do this quickly so you can get any charges resolved and avoid late fees and interest.”
You can start checking the errors once you review the explanation of your insurer’s benefit statements. You should do that right after you have received the statement. You can also get copies of your medical records and compare them with the charges in the bill.
2. Negotiate The Bill
You will need to speak with the medical billing manager of the healthcare provider. This is because this is the person who has the authority to lower the bill. In such situations, you will need to be prompt with your actions and not wait until your bill gets in collections.
3. Ask For An Aggressive Discount
You can ask for an aggressive discount by agreeing to pay right away (if you can pay). Let’s say if you pay 40% of the bill now, ask them to give an aggressive discount of 25%. This strategy might work for the healthcare biller, as you are saving a lot of time and money by paying outright.
4. Check For Financial Help
If you want financial help to pay your medical bills, you can have several options. Here are some of the options you can go for:
- Consumer Assistance Programs
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- State Agencies
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
You can also get help from someone who is a debt negotiator, a medical billing advocate, or a medical case worker.
Hope this article was helpful for you in getting an idea of what happens if you don’t pay your medical bills. The problem is very high in the US, and medical debt is one of the biggest reasons for debt collection. Hence, in many situations, filing for bankruptcy becomes the last resort. This also negatively affects your credit score as well as your financial security.
However, you can follow the steps that we mentioned in the last section and somehow try to ease the problem of medical debt from your life. Do you have any more recommendations on how to deal with medical debt? Share your views and ideas with us in the comments section below.
A passionate writer and an avid reader, Soumava is academically inclined and loves writing on topics requiring deep research. Having 3+ years of experience, Soumava also loves writing blogs in other domains, including digital marketing, business, technology, travel, and sports.