These days, it seems like going to the doctor or hospital, means you're going to end up with out-of-pocket expenses even if you have insurance.

I know people who have put off important hospital procedures because they can't afford the co-pay.

The expenses can quickly add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

According to a report on, nearly 18% of all Americans have medical debt in collections.

Dealing with medical debt is a frustrating experience.  We pay a lot of money for health insurance, yet our insurance never seems to pay enough.

The Risk of Ignoring Debt

Ignoring the debt can lead to problems with your credit score, and that can impact many other parts of your life.

If you have a low credit score, it can affect your ability to buy a car, rent a home, buy a home, or secure credit for many other necessities.

The Collections Agencies

Failure to pay your bill can result in your account being turned over to a collection agency.

If this happens, the collections agency must give you 12 months to either pay, dispute, or negotiate a settlement before they can submit your debt to the credit bureaus.

When your debt is reported to the credit bureaus, it remains on your record for 7 years.

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How to Get Out From Under Medical Bills

Experts suggest that if you are over your head in medical debt, you can try these these things to get out of debt:

  • Try to negotiate a settlement with the provider.  Depending on how much you owe, it may be less expensive for all involved to settle for a lower amount.
  • Many hospitals have a charity department.  Whether or not you qualify will depend on your household earnings.
  • Contact a reputable debt counselor.  Do your research on this one. Some companies use your fear to prey on those in debt.  A good debt counselor can negotiate with the provider on your behalf, and help set up payment plans.
  • Take out a consolidation loan.  Consolidate your debt and take out a bank loan.  Yes, you'll still have the debt, but you'll be able to make smaller payments over time.
  • Reach out to a private charitable organization such as a religious organization.
  • File for bankruptcy.  This is probably the last resort.  It will remain on your record for 7 years.  However, sometimes you know you will never be able to pay the debt, and this will take a load off your shoulders.

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