How to Prevent Medical Debt From Impacting Your Credit Score

Whether you’ve suffered an unanticipated medical emergency such as an illness, injury, or accident, or you’re dealing with an ongoing medical condition, you could find yourself staring down the barrel of massive debt related to your medical care. And this can be exacerbated by an inability to work, job loss, and loss of insurance, amongst other things. During this time, you’ll have plenty of concerns related to your finances, not to mention your relative state of health. So the last thing you want to have to worry about is how your situation is going to affect your credit score. Unfortunately, massive unpaid debts, especially those that go to collections, can have a negative impact on your credit rating, and they can be extremely difficult to expunge, even once you’ve paid off your medical bills. In short, you can’t avoid thinking about it if you want to maintain your top-tier rating. Here are just a few ways that you might be able to prevent a hit to your credit score when you’re dealing with medical debt.

  1. Take out a loan. If you’re medical bills are sky high and you simply can’t pay them outright, you might want to think about taking out a personal loan to pay them off. You’ll end up owing more over time thanks to interest payments, but depending on the terms of the loan this could end up being a small price compared to the negative effects of having your debt sent to collections or worse, filing for bankruptcy. In fact, your loan payments will get reported to credit agencies, whereas medical bills probably won’t. So this course of action could actually help to improve your credit score.
  2. Set up a payment plan. Most hospitals and doctor’s offices are willing to work with you if you’re facing financial hardship. For one thing, they want to get paid at least a portion of what you owe, if not all of it. But they’re not without compassion - they are, after all, devoted to helping others in need. So if you can’t afford to pay off your medical bills in full, speak to someone about setting up a payment plan you can live with. This will help to ensure that your debt doesn’t affect your credit score.
  3. Ask for discounts. You might be surprised by what you can get just by asking, and when it comes to discharging your medical debts, requesting a discount on your bill could net you a huge percentage off the top. Generally speaking, you could easily secure a 20% discount. But depending on the charges you face, you might see a reduction as high as 50% or even more in some cases. A willingness to pay is important, even if you’re dealing with financial hardships, and asking for help could go a long way towards alleviating your debt and making it easier for you to pay.
  4. Sell assets to pay down debt. The idea of selling valuables to pay off medical debts is not appealing, but for many people it’s a far more attractive prospect than getting sent to collections. In addition, this could allow you to pay in cash, which puts you in a good position to negotiate the amount you owe and potentially see a significant reduction.
  5. Engage in debt counseling. Debt counseling is sort of a last ditch effort to avoid filing for bankruptcy, not to mention the havoc it will wreak on your credit. An agency will help you to create a plan to pay off debt and they’ll get your creditors to agree. Unlike filing chapter 13, you will have to pay your debts in full. And unfortunately, your creditors have the option to back out, especially if you miss payments. On the upside, though, you won’t have a bankruptcy filing on your credit report. Whether an injury or illness landed you in the hospital or you’re living with chronic pain and visiting a specialized clinic like PMIR in an attempt to manage your condition, the medical bills can quickly get out of hand. But you don’t have to resign yourself to a plummeting credit rating as a result. When you negotiate and find ways to pay you can get out of debt and keep your credit score high.

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