When you’re dealing with an unexpected illness or injury, the last thing you want to worry about is how you’ll pay for the medical care you need. Unfortunately, that’s something many people have to deal with. In fact, one study found that medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy filings in the United States. It doesn’t have to be that way. Many people manage to get through challenging times without going broke as a result of their medical expenses. These people aren’t lucky – they simply took deliberate action to manage their finances and reduce their risk of financial ruin as a result of their medical expenses. If you take steps now to manage your healthcare expenses before they become a problem, you can avoid financial trouble down the road. Here are some ways to do just that:
Set aside money for medical care
You never know when you might be hit with a medical crisis that ends up costing you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. It happens all the time. You may not be able to predict what will happen, but you can plan for it. Set aside funds in an account dedicated to medical bills – even if it’s just a small amount. You may never need it, but you’ll be glad you have it if you do.
If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to dip into that account once or twice over the course of your life, and you’ll be able to pay it off quickly. If, however, you have a chronic or long-term condition, you may have to use the money in that account on a regular basis. If that’s the case, you’ll want to be sure to keep the account separate from any other savings or checking accounts, so you don’t accidentally spend the money in it.
Negotiate lower prices for medical services
If you have health insurance, you may not be able to negotiate the price of medical services. However, if you’re paying for medical care out of pocket, you can definitely negotiate the price. People often think they can’t negotiate with medical providers, but that’s not true. Many medical providers will actually work with you to find a payment plan that works for you as well as them. If you’re prepared to pay cash upfront, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. Make sure to do your research before visiting a provider, and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount.
Take advantage of tax benefits while paying off debt
You may qualify for the medical expense tax deduction if you have high medical bills. This deduction allows you to reduce the amount of taxes you owe each year by up to 10% of the amount you’ve spent on out-of-pocket medical bills. You may also want to consider looking into a healthcare savings account. These accounts allow you to put money away pre-tax and take advantage of tax-deferred growth. People with high medical bills often have multiple sources of debt, such as bills and credit cards. If you’re paying off debt, you may want to consider refinancing your medical debt. Some companies specialize in helping people pay off their medical bills, and they may be able to lower your monthly payments and interest rates.
Talk to your doctor before getting treatment.
Before you get treatment for a medical condition, you should talk to your doctor about the costs of the treatment and the potential impact on your financial situation. Doctors are often not aware of the potential impact their recommendations may have on patients’ finances. Unfortunately, some doctors may not understand the importance of recommending a less expensive treatment. If you talk to your doctor about the financial impact of the recommended treatment, you may be able to come up with a reasonable alternative that costs less and still provides you with the care you need.
Look into health ministries
Health ministries are nonprofit organizations that offer healthcare services to people who cannot afford them. Some health ministries only offer care to church members, while others offer services to people of all faiths. You can find medical cost-sharing programs near you online or contact your local religious leader.
When you’re faced with an unexpected medical crisis, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like there’s nothing you can do. In reality, there are many steps you can take to protect yourself financially. With diligence and forward-thinking, you can avoid financial trouble and keep your finances strong even when you have significant medical expenses.
As challenging as financial troubles are, they can be even more difficult to deal with when a loved one is sick. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are financially prepared to focus on taking care of your health and the people who depend on you. With a little effort, you can ensure you’re financially strong even when facing a difficult medical situation.