Medical bills are one of the leading causes of financial turmoil in America. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, nearly two-thirds of households that filed for bankruptcy between 2013 and 2016 cited medical bills as the main contributor.
Corn bankruptcy is not the only option for managing the high costs of medical care. In some cases, personal loans can be an option to increase medical expenses. There are also a handful of other financial strategies that can ease the load when health care costs get too high.
How to use a personal loan to pay medical bills
If you opt for a personal or medical loan, you will need to complete a quick application with your chosen lender and submit to a credit check. Depending on your credit, you may need some form of collateral – a car, house, or other property.
In most cases, you can expect the financing to be done within a few days, after which time you can use the funds for pay off your debt. You will then make monthly payments on your loan until the balance is paid off.
A quick note here: always use a personal loan repayment calculator before you apply for your loan. You’ll want to be sure that you can afford both the monthly payments and the long-term costs that come with your loan.
Should you use a personal loan to pay for medical bills?
Personal loans, as well as specific types of them like medical loans and debt consolidation, can seem like an easy solution when you are facing high medical bills. They do not require collateral, and the credit requirements are usually minimal as well. Plus, they usually offer financing in just a few days.
According to Howard Dvorkin, president of Debt.com, these loans can be a good option if you are facing potential collection attempts.
“If you have good credit but a lot of medical debt, consider a debt consolidation loan,” Dvorkin said. “It’s better than letting your bills linger in collections, it allows you to pay your bills in a lump sum and saves you the hassle of setting up a repayment plan. “
But these loans are not without drawbacks. On the one hand, they can ding your credit score. The loan will not only increase your balances, but it will require a firm credit check, too – both of which can drop your score.
Potentially worse than that, however? You’ll pay interest to take out these loans – and that means even more in total long-term expenses. If you have particularly large debt or less than stellar credit, your interest charges will be even higher.
What are the other options for paying medical bills?
Loans are not your only way to go if you are facing exorbitant medical bills. In fact, before even considering, you might want to call the doctor or hospital that billed you first.
According to Kent Ivanoff, CEO and co-founder of healthcare billing platform VisitPay, most providers are willing to put together a payment plan, often without interest. Many providers also offer discounts or financial assistance, especially if you are uninsured or have not reached a certain level of income. Some are even prepared to negotiate the fees.
“Rather than taking out a loan from a third party, you are probably much better off working directly with your health care provider on longer term repayment plans,” Ivanoff said. “Most health care systems in the United States are nonprofit organizations. They are very likely to work with you on user friendly repayment options. “
If the discussion with your provider doesn’t work, you may want to consider:
Some vendors also offer in-house financing or have credit card partners who can help you fund your debt. Just make sure you weigh all of your options first and always get the details on interest rate, fees and conditions in writing before proceeding.
Check your bills
If you are facing high medical bills, always check the accuracy of your bills. Ninety percent of medical bills contain errors – often duplicate charges, incorrect quantities, and charges for canceled tests and procedures – according to Medliminal, a company that reviews health care bills for customers. Compare your bills with any explanation of benefits you receive from your insurance company, and consider hiring a lawyer for medical billing.