Getting Control Of Medical Debt
Medical Debt Doesn’t have to Destroy Your Hopes for Homeownership
First it starts with a doctor’s appointment, and then there’s the follow-up appointment, medication, and therapy.
One medical expense can quickly turn into several, and one co-pay or bottle of pills can add up to thousands of dollars before you realize what has even happened.Be proactive and start digging yourself out of that medical debt with these tips:
• Communicate with your provider: Upon receiving a medical bill, take action even if you can’t pay right away. Try to set up a payment plan allowing you to pay small increments of the bill over time. Many providers will hold out on sending bills to a collections agency if you proactively and consistently pay toward the amount owed.
• Ask for an itemized bill: Auditing everything on a medical bill helps demystify why you owe money and helps to clarify any mistakes and uncover fraud. If there is an expensive procedure on the bill you did not agree to (but were in a condition to understand throughout treatment), you can fight the charge.
• Keep records: Make copies of all canceled checks, receipts, and account statements. These things are needed if you have to dispute a credit report error. If speaking to someone in person or by phone, keep detailed records about every conversation.
• Offer to pay a lump sum: If you’ve been making consistent payments and the amount due finally reaches a point you can pay off, ask if you can pay remaining debt in one lump sum at a slightly lower amount than if you continued making ongoing payments.
• Monitor medical debt on credit reports: Medical debt can only be posted to a credit report after 180 days, so use this time to catch up on unpaid bills and correct discrepancies pending with insurance companies. If paid debt does appear on a credit report, take proactive steps to remove it. After contesting paid medical debt on your credit report, continue to monitor your report and follow up to ensure the debt is removed in a timely manner.
After completing your payments, you’ll be shocked at the positive impact this can make to your credit score! The better your credit score is, stereotypically, the better rates you get on those home loans, so an ounce of prevention is totally worth it! Need help? Check out these tips for shopping for a mortgage.