Medical Bills: Helpful Tips To Pay Medical Bills When You Can’t Afford Them

Published Feb 6, 2019

Medical Bills: Helpful Tips To Pay Medical Bills When You Can’t Afford Them

In the United States, an illness, a surgery, a pregnancy, or any serious medical treatment can reach into the thousands and even the five-figure thousands. Even if you have insurance, you can still be left with a hefty balance due.

Find some helpful tips on ways to handle medical bills you cannot afford.

1. Review Your Medical Bills: Make Sure Charges Are Accurate

There are so many components to medical care and so many and individuals that take part in the processing of your medical bills that there can become many coding and billing mistakes. Once you receive your bill make sure to review it carefully for common billing mistakes

Wrongful Billing: charging the patient for services/treatments not actually rendered.

Duplicate Billing: charging the patient more than once for the same medical service/treatment.

Such common billing mistakes can lead to the insurance company denying payment, placing the responsibility on the patient. Therefore, reviewing for these issues can help save you money on the portion of patient responsibility and/or it may help understand why the insurance denied the claim. If there is a billing mistake, reach out the medical provider to have this rectified and request that they resubmit the claim to the insurance provider.

2. Insufficient Payment By Insurance Provider: Resubmit Your Claim

Read your Explanation of Benefits to determine exactly what is be covered by your insurance provider. Through reading this document, you will be able to determine whether the insurance paid for all services and amounts that were covered under your policy.

There are times when the insurance carrier fails to pay the proper amount for the medical services/treatments (medical codes) rendered.

If you feel this occurred, you should call your insurance provider and / or resubmit the claim .

3. Negotiate with Insurance Provider or Medical Provider

In most instance, medical bills are negotiable with the medical provider, regardless if the patient is insured, and with the patient's insurance provider. Deciding on which to negotiate with is situational.

Regardless of who you are negotiating with, make sure you are actually speaking to the person who is in a position that they can make such decisions... such as the medical billing manager. Second, make sure to stay persistent... if the request is denied or not answered, continue making requests and try all avenues: phone, emails, fax, and even letters.

Look at the medical bill and see the cost charged for each service/treatment and then research around the area to find the average cost of the same service/treatment. If the average is lower than what you were charged, reach out to the medical provider to have it lowered.

4. Payment Plan

With most medical organizations, hospitals, and providers, they offer the option of a payment plan. Most offer such payment plan options at 0% interest for a fixed-period of time. Also, some offer a percentage discount off the total amount when the patient offers to pay the bill in one lump sum payment.

Call your medial provider and ask about payment plan options and do not hesitate to ask for the payment plan that you suits your needs or to request a discount that you feel is reasonable off the total amount when making a one lump-sum payment.

5. Financial Assistance

Most medical organizations and hospitals offer financial assistance; however, each has its own policies and requirements. 

If you are in a financial hardship, reach out to the medical organization, hospital, and/or doctor to ask about / discuss their financial assistance program.

6. Charities or Medicaid

If unfortunately your are ultimately unable to pay for your medical bills, despite attempting the above, another option is to reach out to charities in the area that are dedicated to assisting individuals who are unable to pay their medical bills or who are facing a financial hardship.

Also, if you are in a financial hardship / out of job, checking out Medicaid may also be very benenficial.

7. Crowdfunding

A growing popular resource for help during times of financial hardship is to crowdfund. Starting a crowdfunding campaign on kickstarter, gofundme, or other crowdfunding websites may be just the answer you are looking for, just be certain to advertise your campaign to others, including through social media and to explain the reason for your financial need.


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Lee__R • Community manager
on 2/6/19

Hello members, please check out this new resource created for you! If you have any other tips or suggestions to help pay for medical bills, please feel free to drop them in the discussion below. If you found this information helpful, please also feel free to let us know. 

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on 2/19/19

Thank you for this post. I cannot emphazie enough to look through your bills. My sister had medical bills where the services was charged twice. We had to call to get it resolved. I feel we tend not to look at our bills and just assume it is being done correctly.

on 3/13/19

Great tips and glad it is published for all to see. I have had a few operations and have always been able to negotiate my bill with the hospital / provider and sometimes even get it completely wiped off.

However, I have noticed that when it is a private medical group or doctor practice that they will negotiate with you and/or provide you a payment plan, but they are very unlikely to forgive it, even if you have minimal funds. But if it is a hospital, if you tell them you cannot afford it and provide sufficient documentation, they will forgive it. Has been a blessing for me more than once.

on 3/25/19

Thank you for sharing I am aware of many of these options but your explanation helped!

Has anyone had any success in paying for medical bills or having help pay for medical bills through crowdfunding through fundraising websites like GoFundMe or others?

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