6 Easy Solutions for Managing Your Tricky Medical Bills

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

help with medical bills

A few months ago, I opened the mail and saw an old medical bill.

Although it was only for $30, I was shocked to find that it was from over a year ago! Not only that, but it came with a big, bold warning: FINAL NOTICE. DUE IMMEDIATELY.

I’ve always thought that I was a pretty responsible person when it came to paying what I owe. But I’ve learned that even I need help with medical bills from time to time.

Unlike most debts, medical debt isn’t quite as easy to understand. It involves everything from strange billing due dates to confusing billing practices. So if you’re looking for guidance and help with medical bills, here’s what you need to know.

Do medical bills hurt your credit?

If you’re wondering if unpaid medical bills hurt your credit, the easy answer is yes. But that’s not the complete story.

Many hospitals and healthcare providers do not directly report a missed payment. Instead, they use collection agencies to attempt to settle a debt. These third-parties then report your unpaid bill when it is not settled.

Unfortunately, unpaid medical debt is common. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported a few years ago that more than 50 percent of debt on a credit report was medical-related and that the average overdue bill is $1,000.

The CFPB also notes in its report how confusing medical billing processes are one of the main reasons why credit scores are brought down significantly when there’s a failure to pay.

However, managing medical debt and understanding how to get help with medical bills is easier said than done. But by utilizing these methods below, you can organize your finances, fight back against inaccurate bills, and find the assistance you need to pay down your medical debts.

6 methods for managing your medical debt

1. Catch the errors

Being skeptical of your medical debt can help with medical bills by keeping you on top of the statements you receive.

In all cases, you should request an itemized bill before you pay it. Then, comb through the list for procedures that look unfamiliar or medications you did not approve.

If you see something questionable, start an appeals process through both the hospital and your health insurance company.

2. Save your EOB

With every bill comes an explanation of benefits (EOB). An EOB lays out the procedures you were billed for and explains how your insurance benefits were applied.

It will also show you how your medical bill was applied to your deductible or out-of-pocket costs. This is why it’s important to request an itemized bill from your medical provider every time.

Attach your itemized bill to the corresponding EOB and review it. Keeping them together will also help you avoid any confusion on what bills have been taken care of by your insurance and which are still coming due or need to be appealed.

3. Document everything

When it comes to medical care, you’re not being billed for just one visit each and every time. A physical exam may turn into a strep test and a flu shot, all of which may be billed by several different providers.

Keeping a journal or diary of the dates of your medical care, the doctors you saw, and the basic procedures you help you predict what kind of medical debt is coming your way.

Also, be sure to keep each and every document you sign. Because of the confusion with outsourcing to private physicians, many medical providers now require you to acknowledge you’ll be billed by a third party provider. Keeping this form can save confusion and time in the future.

4. Go digital for extra help

Most hospitals and providers have caught on to how hard it is to manage medical debt.

That’s why many now put their bills online via web portals so that patients can access them at any time. Some even include lists of medical services, providers’ names, and dates of visits to make it even easier.

However, if you still struggle with the actual bill portion, or if your doctor doesn’t provide you with an online system, try apps like Simplee. They link with your healthcare provider to simplify your bill, set up payment plans, and organize your accounts.

5. Set up a bi-weekly payment date

If you’re swamped with piles of medical bills with different due dates, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed trying to keep it all together.

Instead of trying to separate things out by dates due or when you received the bill, set up a specific bill pay date.

For example, if you have three bills due on the 3rd, 9th, and 12th of the month, schedule your bill pay date for the 30th of the month prior and submit all the payments at the same time.

6. Make copies of submitted payments

Medical debt differs from other bills because it often requires multiple payments. And they may have to be done via a mailed-in check or credit card charge.

First and foremost, keep any and all receipts of payment. Not only are they important for proving payment, they also help when submitting an adjustment to income on your taxes for medical and dental expenses.

Secondly, make multiple copies of any check or credit card information sent in along with the original bill. Request receipts sent via mail several days after sending them in to confirm that they were received.

Then, attach to the itemized bill and EOB so that everything is linked up.

Where to go when you need help with medical bills

If you’re unable to pay, your first call should be to the hospital or provider.

Explain your financial situation and express your desire to pay your debt down as fast as possible. You may even be able to request monthly payment plans or renegotiate a bill on a sliding scale if you can prove financial need.

In the case of a large bill, you can even attempt to request a bill paid in full by paying a large percentage of it in full on the spot. Hospitals may be willing to work with what you have if you ask well in advance of your due date, or for special circumstances.

For me, receiving that unexpected medical bill was a wake-up call that I needed help with medical bills.

By saving every medical document I receive, searching for mistakes in my statements, and setting up a bill pay date, I have become more consistent with making my doctor bills a bigger priority. I’ve also been able to increase my chances of upping my credit score.

While it may take time and a bit of effort using the above methods, it’s so worth it when it comes to improving my overall medical (and financial) health.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal LoansFixed rates from 6.199% APR to 15.365% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.145% APR to 14.685% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of June 15, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.145% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.97% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply:SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
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  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.