Medical debt is a serious problem for many Americans. When expensive bills pile up, paying them off can be difficult, leaving you to look for other options. Some people opt to file for bankruptcy, while others try to get a reasonable debt settlement offer. But before weighing the pros and cons of debt settlement vs. bankruptcy, you should consider reaching out to your medical biller to see if something else can be done. There may be a way to get a better deal for a debt settlement that doesn’t affect your credit score as much as an “official” settlement would. If you are in debt from medical bills and want to negotiate a settlement, here is how to do it.
Know your rights
When negotiating with your medical biller, it is important to know your rights. Not all debt settlements are created equal, and some companies may attempt to deceive you. Before signing anything, make sure you understand everything offered and know your legal options if something goes wrong. Consult with an attorney or financial advisor to see if there are avenues to protect your finances.
Request a review with your insurer
Often a medical bill you receive is simply a coding error by the biller that caused your claim to be rejected by your health insurer. Contact both the biller and your insurance company to see if there is something amiss here that could be resolved simply by resubmitting the claim to your insurer.
Prepare for the negotiation
Before you even speak to your medical biller, it is crucial to have a plan. Prepare questions about the debt, what kind of settlement they offer, and how it would affect your credit score. Having this information will make the negotiation much easier.
Set a fair price
When negotiating, it is important to set a fair price. Ensure you understand the amount of debt you are responsible for and what type of settlement would be most beneficial for you. Don’t let them pressure you into signing something you don’t want or can’t afford.
In all likelihood, you may be on the hook for a partial amount of your bill; it’s rare to have medical debt completely written off. Going into your negotiations with an understanding of what you can responsibly handle paying back instead of refusing to settle for anything less than a full write-off may go a long way toward helping you and your biller come to an agreement.
Be persistent and firm
No negotiation is ever easy, but you can get a better deal by being persistent and firm. If your biller isn’t willing to budge, don’t hesitate to escalate the situation. Simply stating that you will not pay anything less than what you are entitled to may be enough to get them to change their mind.
Use objections as opportunities to negotiate
If your biller offers something you don’t like or feel is fair, use it as an opportunity to negotiate. For example, if they want you to pay off your entire debt in a lump sum, try suggesting that you pay off smaller chunks over time.
Be prepared to walk away if necessary
Remember, you are not obligated to agree to anything and have the right to walk away from the deal if necessary. If the negotiations go south and they refuse to budge, remember that you still have legal options. Consult with an attorney or financial advisor before making any decisions.
Your state government may also have resources to help you, and hundreds of charities and non-profit financial organizations specialize in helping people resolve medical debt. Don’t feel like you need to make any sort of decision right away, especially if it feels like you’re backed into a corner. You may have options out there that are more accessible than you think.
The bottom line
Getting debt settlement for medical bills can be difficult, but by following these tips, you may get a better deal. Learning about your rights and preparing for the negotiation will help make the process easier.