Did you know that Millennials carry the most medical debt?
According to a recent study, 11 percent of 27-year-olds have at least one medical bill in collections. The group represents the largest share of people observed in the study. They also incur medical charges more often than anyone else.
Medical debt can be difficult to control, especially if you are still trying to build wealth and advance your career. If you’re under 30 and new to dealing with burdensome medical expenses, here are some helpful things you should know.
Although you may feel young and healthy, many people need medical attention—and have to pay a portion of it—at some point. The best way to avoid debt is to prepare for it.
Create an emergency savings account
Start putting money into a savings account now for unexpected expenses. The account doesn’t have to be exclusively for medical costs. You may need the cash for something else like last-minute car repairs. But make sure you contribute it to every month. That way your finances can absorb the blow of future medical costs.
When it comes to personal finance, exercise probably doesn’t top your list of ways to save. But medical professionals always recommend physical activity as a way to stay healthy. By reducing your risk for things like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, you also reduce your financial liability for treating these conditions.
If you’re currently saddled with medical debt that you can’t pay, here are a few things you can try.
Stay on top of your bills
If you’re broke, it’s tempting to just ignore the bills from the doctor. However, this is a bad idea. If you ignore them long enough, your account will eventually be sent to collections, and the debt will show up on your credit report. As a result, you will have a harder time getting a credit card, buying a home, etc.
Read your Explanation of Benefits (EOB)
When you receive an EOB in the mail, you might see the big, bold type that says “THIS IS NOT A BILL” and immediately recycle the letter. But it’s worthwhile to take a minute and read through.
The EOB can prepare you for upcoming costs. For example, if you see that insurance only partially paid a claim, you should expect a bill for the unpaid portion to arrive from the medical office; make sure you budget accordingly.
Call your doctor’s office if you can’t pay in full
If your bill is more than you can cover, contact your doctor’s office as soon as possible. Tell them you received the bill but you’re facing financial hardship. Believe it or not, they may be willing to offer you a repayment plan.
No matter your age, medical debt can damage your finances. If you’re just not sure how to manage your bills, reach out to our financial counseling partner to help.