Medical Billing

Medical Billing and RCM Experts

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What To Do When You Can’t Pay The Hospital Bills?

The extensive population in the United States is facing severe hospital billing issues. The reason for that is expensive medical treatments and poor patient financial wealth. Despite being assisted with insurance coverage, there are some amounts that you owe to the hospital and if don’t pay, you may face severe results.

But if you are unable to pay a medical bill, are there any other options? Yes, there are. In this guide you’ll know the basic knowledge of what to do when receiving a medical bill, how can you pay and what are the options when you can’t pay hospital bills.

Verify Your Bill And EOB Carefully. Do You Owe It?

clinical coding

First of all, before paying a hospital bill, confirm if you owe the bill. That means checking the bill carefully. Remember if you have paid the bill. Many times hospital staff send you a paid bill again just by mistake. You must also check your name on the bill as staff might confuse you with other patients having similar names.

Analyze whether the services mentioned on the bill are really what you received. If yes, then what are the charges for each, calculate the estimated amount by yourself. It is also a great idea to get an Explanation of Benefits (EOB). It states how much your insurance company has paid and how much you owe.

If charges seem suspicious to you, ask for an itemized bill from the hospital. Contact the hospital staff and tell them that you would like to have an itemized bill. It lists each health service and equipment used during the treatment, along with its exact charges. The itemized bill also shows the amount your insurance payer paid, how much they negotiated, and then your final balance is estimated. Calculate the cost of each service charge, exclude insurance coverage and the negotiated amount, and get a final figure that you have to pay.

If the hospital bill is verified as authentic, but still expensive there is no option other than paying the bill. However, some payment methods and strategies may help you to deal with the situation better. But remember to react immediately as ignoring the hospital bill can make you pay a heavy interest rate and late fees.

5 Easy Hospital Bill Payment Options

medical bill

If you are short on budget but owe an expensive medical bill, don’t worry. As there are some payment options that you can use to pay off your bills, which also sometimes reduce the actual amount of the total payable sum. Since, paying a bill is better than delaying it.

  1. Payment Plans

When you can’t pay the hospital bill upfront, medical providers like physicians may offer you affordable low or zero-interest payment plans. 

These plans most of the time divide the bill into monthly payments until the bill amount is fully covered. You can also negotiate to pay minimal amounts of the bill each month. But it depends on your total bill along with the terms on which you negotiate.

  1. Medical Credit Cards

These are specific medical cards, designed to help those patients that can’t pay hospital bills all at once. You can apply for medical credit cards, after which you will be allowed to pay your bill in installments.

A thing to remember is that, though these hospital bills come with almost no interest fee for 6-12 months, you can be hit with extensive interest rates if you don’t pay off any installments in a specific time.

Another important thing to note is that missed installments or late payments negatively affect your credit score, and result in facing difficulty in obtaining big loans in the future.

What if You receive a bill 2 years later? Keep some preventive measures in mind

  1. Unsecured Credit Alternatives

There are mostly 2 types of unsecured methods to pay off hospital bills:

Personal Loans

It is the best option when you are not eligible for medical credit cards. Search for a number of personal healthcare loan lenders and choose one with the most favorable time and interest rate terms.

If you have already maintained a good credit score, you’ll be able to secure personal loans with a low-interest rate. But for those with poor credit scores, these loans offer high-interest rates. Still, it is one of the best options to pay a medical bill. You can easily get funds from $1000 to $10,000.

0% Interest Credit Cards

As mentioned above good credit may help you secure loans with low-interest rates, but excellent credit may easily get you 0% interest personal loans. Just be sure to pay within the specified payment period term in order to avoid heavy interest rates.

  1. Income-Driven Hardship Plans

These plans are specifically for those patients that possess insufficient income streams. If you are one of them, ask a health provider about such plans. 

Income-driven plans are similar to other plans and break down your bill into easy and affordable monthly installments. Sometimes in the case of very low-income-generating patients, medical bills or debts may all be forgiven.

  1. Negotiating Costs On Your Own

If you are confident enough to negotiate a hospital bill, go for it. Take your bill and see if there are any wrong or very high charges. Then go to customer support and discuss with them the expense of bill charges. Back up your facts with accurate points. Be sure to maintain consistency when following up with the customer service representative.

What If You Can’t Pay Bills Even From The Above Options?

medical debt

Even after specifying the above payment options, many patients are still unable to pay heavy hospital bills. That can make the situation worse. The hospital may charge you late fees and still if the payment is still not made, your case may be transferred to a medical debt collection agency.

These agencies contact you and make you pay the bill by all means. They can even sue you in court regarding a medical bill so be aware of them. Here are some steps you can take to tackle the situation.

  1. Know Your Legal Rights

There are 3 legal acts that you can consider during the situation:

The Affordable Care Act

According to this act, if you are a low-income generator, non-profit hospitals are obliged to provide you with free, discounted, or low-amount medical services. As nearly half of the hospitals in the United States are non-profit, you may be eligible for that. But, eligibility criteria may vary depending on the stats and hospitals.

Fair Debt Collection Act (FDCPA)

This act restricts debt collection agencies to use aggressive methods to reach you. They can’t break your privacy for bill collection causes. If they violate any rule, you can take legal steps against them.

No Surprise Bill Act

According to this act, out-of-network health service providers can’t send you the bill. This act applies to almost all emergency and routine care medical services.

  1. Appeal Insurance Claim Denials

If you have submitted a claim regarding a hospital bill, sometimes insurance companies deny it. But you still have the chance to appeal the claims. For this, you have to work with your medical provider in order to prepare the appeal. Study shows that around 40% of appeals are successful.

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    1. Get Help From A Patient Advocate

    These advocates are life saviors. Patient advocates fight for the bills on your behalf, it could be anyone from your family and friends. But it is a great idea to hire professional patient advocates that have a successful track record. However, you can only be eligible to get a patient advocate if you are a permanent US citizen.

    They will do the constant calling and negotiating with the hospital, which will be much helpful for you. Research has found that an average of 22 calls to hospitals may help resolve billing issues. With the help of an advocate, you are now free from this hustle.

    1. Seek Financial Assistance

    There are 3 options to consider when you can’t pay the hospital bills on your own:

    Government Programs

    In order to help patients with financial assistance, many government-based organizations step forward. You can look around a number of these programs, but the most common ones are offered by Medicaid and CHIP. Don’t forget to check the eligibility criteria of each grant.

    Patient Assistance Programs (PAP)

    Pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca and Merck also offer payment plans to help pay bills for the drugs and medicines of those patients that are unable to pay.

    Medical Charities

    Charity is often offered to those that have the least chance of paying bills. You can research on Google and find many charity programs that you are eligible for.


    With all the methods and options mentioned in our guide, you can now consider any of them and pay off your hospital bills. Don’t forget to show a quick response as indolence may throw you into many complications.

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