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Even if you have good health insurance, an unexpected medical bill can all but ruin you financially. Fortunately, you have a few options available to you if you don’t think you can handle your medical debt.

Make Sure the Bill is Correct

Foremost, take a close look at your bill to make sure everything is correct. Medical bills are notorious for being inaccurate, with 80 percent containing at least one error, according to one report. Ask for an itemized bill if you didn’t receive one to make sure that there aren’t any duplicate charges or charges for services you didn’t receive. If you don’t understand your bill, ask the medical staff to explain it to you.


Even if your medical bill is accurate, you may be able to negotiate it down. Many hospitals are used to patients negotiating for lower bills, and nonprofit hospitals must make financial assistance available to low-income patients under the Affordable Care Act.

Ask for a Repayment Plan

If you can’t pay your entire bill at once, ask if you can create a repayment plan that will be manageable for you. Most providers will agree to this, especially since the only other option is to not receive payment at all.

Ask for Help

There are a number of services that can help you with your medical bills. Some of these will cost money, but others are free. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can help you find agencies that can help you manage your debt, while philanthropic organizations such as the PAN Foundation can also help.

Avoid Using Credit Cards

While using a credit card to pay off a large medical debt may seem like a good temporary solution, it will only hurt you in the long run. Credit cards have higher interest rates than medical providers, so most of the time you end up taking on more debt. The one exception to this rule is if you can use a new credit card with a zero percent interest introductory offer, although you will still need to pay your debt even if there is no interest.