What Happens When You Can’t Pay Your Medical Bills in 2018

Medical bills can be huge and overwhelming, and in a lot of cases, whatever insurance coverage you have may not completely cover them. This can leave you financially constrained, and in the worst case, your credit record may be impaired if you can’t pay the bill. The outcome of the process is determined by your actions. You need to take steps to save yourself financially if you cannot pay your medical bills and the steps must be taken early.

The timing matters––taking the right steps when it is already late may not be beneficial to you. So the best time to act is as soon as you realize that your insurance coverage cannot cover the entire bill.

Step By Step Guide On What to Do

Before you can take any action, you need to know the actual cost of the medical procedures. The cost, in this case, refers to the cost of the medications and supplies, medical procedures, and so forth. This should give you a firm understanding of the situation and allow you to negotiate and bargain for a cheaper cost.

Here’s what else you can do:

Don’t Ignore the Bill

The greatest mistake most people make with medical bills is ignoring them. Ignoring the bill/bills will not make the problem go away, but rather it will make it grow and persist. At best, your credit rating will be hurt. At worst, you’ll end up drowning and filing for bankruptcy. Medical debt is actually the leading cause of bankruptcies in the United States.

Discuss With Your Provider

Don’t assume that your medical provider will ignore your complaints—you may be wrong. This is perhaps one of the first things you need to do when constrained by medical bills.

Talk to the hospital on time if you don’t think you can keep up with the bill. This option may not always work but it can be an effective way to set up a plan for the payment without affecting your credit. In a situation where the provider does not have a payment plan available for you, you can simply leverage other options.

Talking with your provider as early as possible is a good indication to them that you are willing to pay your bills. This could work in your favor in the worst-case scenario.

Explore Billing Errors

It may surprise you to know that up to 80% of medical bills contain errors, so don’t pay your medical bills blindly. You need to painstakingly scrutinize the bills for errors and overcharges before making your payment.

A good place to scrutinize is the “Explanation of Benefits” (EOB) you received from your insurer. Some bills may contain large charges that seldom make any sense. Spotting such charges could significantly cut down on the cost.

Also, search for duplicate charges and any other errors in the bill. In some cases, the hospital might send a statement that contains only the total cost of the bill. In such a case, you should request for a detailed statement that shows the cost of each prescription and procedures detailing the lump sum. Talk to you the hospital’s billing department or your insurer in case of any question or doubt.


Most people get under water because they are too ashamed to negotiate. You can simply save yourself a lot of trouble by negotiating with the provider. Healthcare costs tend to be very high for those who do not have insurance coverage. Insurance firms do negotiate for lower costs, but if you’re uninsured you absolutely need to be negotiating.

It could save you thousands of dollars.

Consider Using Disability

This will only be an option if the injury or sickness occurred at work or was work-related. You should consult a disability lawyer and see what your options are given your situation. No one wants to be at odds with their place of employment, but if it truly was related to your work, it’s fair that you get compensated.

Leverage Assistance Programs

Some charity organizations, hospitals, and even the government do offer assistance program for patients below certain federal poverty levels. You could also directly contact charity organizations, community groups, churches and so forth for financial help and relief.

Who knows, that might be the right answer to your situation to come out of the financial quagmire. Talk to the hospital and ask about assistance programs. Such programs could help you if help is available. Interestingly, some assistance may forgive you some or all of the bills, but it depends on your poverty level. This option should be leveraged early enough because you may not be able to leverage it if your account has been sent to the collection agency.

Scrutinize Your Budget

This could be the right time to adjust your budget in order to save some unnecessary costs. It’s even possible you could save up the money to settle the medical bills. Some important decisions could help you save a great deal from your budget.

For example: eating at home, instead of eating out and stopping an unnecessary cable subscription. You may not be able to save a whole lot of money through this approach, but it will help you to have a better control of your finances and ultimately set you on your way to financial freedom.

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