The vast majority of Americans who applied to have medical debts forgiven or reduced were granted relief, according to a survey from LendingTree released Thursday.
The survey found that 60% have had medical debts, with the majority of debts ranging from $5,000 to $9,999. Emergency room visits, doctor visits, childbirth, surgery and dental care were the leading reasons for health care debts.
The survey found that three-fourths of those who have had medical debts asked for relief. Millennials were most likely to be saddled with medical debts.
LendingTree offered the following tips for those encountering medical debts:
· Understand what should be covered by your insurance. Request a Summary of Benefits and Coverage to find out the costs you’re responsible for in terms of copay, coinsurance and a deductible.
· Get an itemized copy of your hospital bill. Search for errors like charges for preventive care, double billing and incorrect coding. You can ask your insurer for help, and a third-party medical bill reviewing service can also help you with this step.
· See if you qualify for payment assistance programs. Nonprofit hospitals are required to offer payment assistance for patients who meet certain income requirements, but the specific details depend on the state in which you live.
· Offer to pay upfront for a discount. If you have the funds to pay most of your medical bill upfront, you may be able to save up to 20% off your bill. Speak directly with a representative from the billing department, and take notes of your communication.
· Enroll in a payment plan through the health care provider. Many hospitals offer interest-free payment plans, which may pose a better alternative to medical credit cards or loans.