HEALTH

Medical debt affects over 100 million Americans, here’s how to manage it

Jan 31, 2024, 3:00 PM

A bandaged piggy bank surrounded by blue pills spilling out of a prescription container. Coins sit ...

(Canva)

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SALT LAKE CITY — According to the White House, 100 million Americans have medical debt. 

Shane Stewart, a DMBA Certified financial planner, gave some advice for managing medical debt on KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic. 

Stewart said the number one piece of advice is to be proactive. Talking to your healthcare provider before your bills are sent to a collections agency could help you set up a payment plan or negotiate the cost. 

“My experience has been [that] they’re willing to work some things out. Especially if they look at your income with the debt that you have. Just about every facility I know of has some sort of financial counseling office,” Stewart said. 

Oftentimes, facilities will offer patients a payment plan regardless of if they need it. 

Secondly, Stewart recommended visiting healthcare.gov if you are underinsured or lack insurance.

Ideally, you should find a policy that fits your budget before you have medical needs. 

“You can even get subsidies if you can’t afford it,” Stewart said. 

When shopping for insurance, look for a policy with an out-of-pocket maximum. 

“[It] will cap out the year if you have something catastrophic happen,” Stewart said. 

According to the Patient Advocate Foundation, lump sum discounts may also be available. Sometimes, providers offer a discount if a patient can pay the total amount of their bill upfront. 

The Patient Advocate Foundation also recommended seeking care from providers within your insurance company’s network.

Shopping around for care is another option if you are not in an emergency. 

More from Dave & Dujanovic: 

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Medical debt affects over 100 million Americans, here’s how to manage it