Medical bills are one of the top-rated consumer debts. Uninsured and underinsured people who crowd emergency rooms in search of every day medical care coupled with overpriced hospital stays for medically necessary services leave many people on the brink of bankruptcy and overwhelmed by medical bills. Some people simply choose to ignore them and let their credit be ruined. However, consolidating those hospital bills can be a more efficient answer, one that not only saves the consumer from the perils of bad credit, but also allows the hospital to collect on a debt that otherwise might go unpaid.
Contact the hospital accounting department. You should talk to their financial department, preferably in person. Explain the financial circumstances and that you are willing to make payments. Ask if they can combine all of your medical bills into one manageable account that can be paid on with reasonable payments. If a payment plan is arrived at, make sure to get it in writing.
Call or visit a debt consolidation firm. These firms specialize in working with consumers to consolidate hospital bills and making them easier for you to manage. Consolidation firms online include Medical Debt Resources and Franklin Debt Relief. These firms collect all your information and contact all of your debtors to arrange for a payment plan. You must weight both the good and the bad sides of consolidation. On one hand, consolidation keeps the bill collectors at bay making it possible to pay a reasonable amount each month. On the other hand, if you enter into a debt consolidation contract you are obligated to pay the debt and put your home in peril if you do not do so. (See Resources.)
Create a debt payoff plan and stick to it. It won’t be the simplest task; you will have to be willing to sacrifice many of the extras, such as movies, entertainment, etc. However, a debt payoff plan as described on many websites including MSN Money can and do work if put in to practice. Once a debt payoff plan is put into place, you can present this to the hospital that you owe the money to. Perhaps they will see your efforts as a step in the right direction and allow you to consolidate your bills without going through a consolidation company.
Declare bankruptcy. This should be your last effort to save your home and family. Bankruptcy stays on your record for seven to 10 years and prevents you from being able to obtain many things; however, it does prevent you from losing your home and the hospitals and other medical bills have to leave you at peace once the bankruptcy goes into effect. If you choose this route you should investigate the laws in your state before proceeding. (See Resources.)
With more than 15 years of professional writing experience, MiShaun Taylor specializes in legal- and wedding-related articles. Her work has appeared in "Pediatrics for Parents," "ISBA News" and Recipestoday.com. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Illinois and a Juris Doctorate from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.