14 Proven Ways To Get Help With Your Medical Bills

DEBT & CREDIT HELP
Find relief from overwhelming medical bills with these 14 actionable steps.
Updated April 9, 2024
Fact checked
health care costs

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Medical expenses can be unexpected and overwhelming, even if you have health insurance. If you're facing a mountain of medical debt, there are many ways to get help with your bills and reduce your financial stress.

Here are some proven and effective ways to negotiate, reduce, or, depending on your circumstances, get your medical bills forgiven altogether. 

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive discounts and financial resources

Over 50? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member you could be missing out on huge perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on things like travel, meal deliveries, eyeglasses, prescriptions that aren’t covered by insurance and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (Do not skip this step!) Doing so will allow you to take up 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

File an appeal if you're denied coverage

Antonioguillem/Adobe claiming on phone about notice

Before accepting a medical bill, review your insurance coverage carefully. If a claim is denied, don't hesitate to file an appeal. Insurance companies can make errors, and appealing a denial might lead to coverage for a portion or all of your medical expenses.

Some insurance companies are notorious for denying coverage to make money, so don't get caught off guard by their tactics and loopholes.

Review your bill carefully

Syda Productions/Adobe writing at home

Medical bills can be complex, and mistakes are not uncommon. Examine your bill carefully, checking for duplicate charges, wrong billing codes, or services you didn't receive. 

If you find discrepancies, contact your health care provider's billing department and let them know.

If you find the language confusing, ask for a plain-language explanation to demystify anything that isn't clear.

Hire a medical bills advocate

fizkes/Adobe discussing health insurance

If you find the billing process overwhelming or confusing, consider hiring a medical bills advocate. 

These pros specialize in navigating the health care billing system and can help you understand your bills, negotiate with providers, and ensure you're not being overcharged.

While an advocate generally charges around $100 an hour or a percentage of the amount you may save, it can be worth the money if you’re facing a lot of debt after an extended hospital stay. Just be careful to hire a reputable company to avoid predatory scammers.

Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt

Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.

National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.1

How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.

Try it

Try to negotiate the price

Drazen/Adobe couple communicating with insurance agent

Health care providers and hospitals may be open to negotiation. They understand that bills can be hard to pay and often would rather receive something than nothing. So, don't hesitate to discuss your financial situation and request a reduction in your medical bill.

If you're uninsured, you can try asking them to charge what the insured price would be. That may deter them from billing you the maximum possible fees.

Know Your Rights Under the No Surprises Act

Have a nice day/Adobe stethoscope with clipboard and laptop

Introduced in 2022, this act protects you from surprise medical bills for out-of-network emergency care. This legislation means you're only responsible for in-network costs, even if you get treatment from an out-of-network provider in an emergency.

If you're uninsured, you're entitled to a good-faith estimate before receiving treatment. If you're charged more, file a dispute.

Seek help from a charity

rocketclips/Adobe patient sitting on exam table

Many charities and non-profit foundations offer financial assistance to folks struggling with medical bills. Do your research and contact these organizations to see if you qualify for aid based on your income and medical condition.

This may be especially helpful for those dealing with cancer treatment co-pays, catastrophic illnesses, or a sick child.

Apply for assistance through hospital hardship plan

K Abrahams/peopleimages.com/Adobe man on a phone call

Hospitals — especially non-profit or charitable institutions — often have financial assistance programs if you're dealing with hardship. These programs can help lower your medical bill or possibly wipe it out altogether in some cases, depending on your financial situation.

Contact your hospital's billing department and ask about their assistance options, even if they're for-profit.

Set up a payment plan

Creativa Images/Adobe savings coins in a jar

It may turn out that you are indeed stuck paying some or all of a medical bill. If you can't pay it in full upfront, request a payment plan from your provider. That may allow you to pay off your debt over time, and perhaps even interest-free.

Even if your bill runs into the thousands, hospitals are still willing to negotiate so they get as much compensation as possible. It may take years, but it's doable.

Research medical credit cards

ChayTee/Adobe credit card payment shopping online

Some credit cards are specifically designed for medical expenses. They may have low or no-interest financing for a specified period. However, be careful and read the fine print to ensure you won't wind up with high interest rates once the promotional period ends.

Note that this option will impact your credit score, so carefully research the best credit cards for paying medical bills.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!2

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Apply for a low-interest credit card

Wing-wing/Adobe planning to use the money

If you can't find a payment plan or a medical credit card that works for you, consider applying for a low-interest credit card. Transferring your medical debt to a card like this can help you pay it off more easily.

Make sure you don't use this card for anything other than medical expenses. You don't want to muddy the waters for tax-deductible expenses.

Take out a personal loan

fizkes/Adobe meeting at laptop in office

Personal loans from banks or online lenders can be used to consolidate and pay off medical debt. They often come with fixed interest rates and predictable monthly payments, making it easier to budget for repayment.

Like a regular credit card, this option should only be used if you're not able to set up a payment plan or have no other avenues to pursue.

Know your debt collection rights

Ver menos/Adobe summarize household expenses

Understanding your rights is crucial when dealing with medical debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act outlines your rights, including protection against harassment and unfair practices. 

Get to know these rights to avoid abusive debt-collection tactics and intimidation. This is especially important if your debt has been transferred from the original provider to a third-party debt collector.

Protect your credit score

NicoElNino/Adobe payment history and debt usage

Medical debt can’t be reported to credit bureaus by collectors until they have attempted to collect the debt from you. Typically, collectors may expect you to settle the bill without question. 

You’re well within your rights to challenge unfair claims and negotiate, but medical debt can negatively impact your credit score if left unpaid.

Beware of scammers

Daisy Daisy/Adobe senior woman giving credit card

Unfortunately, there are scammers who target folks with medical debt. Be careful of unsolicited calls, texts, or emails offering to settle your debt for a fee. 

Always verify the legitimacy of any offer and never share sensitive information like payment information with unknown people.

You'll know if you're dealing with a legit credit counselor, as they won't press you for money upfront or make you feel pressured.

Bottom line

zinkevych/Adobe nice joyful elderly couple

Managing medical debt can be challenging, but with a few proactive steps, you can handle the burden. Remember to stand up for yourself, explore all available options, and ask for help when you need it.

Seniors must be cautious to avoid wasting money on medical debt more often simply because their health is more vulnerable than other adults'. So, if you’re enjoying your golden years, be especially mindful of your medical money management.

Choice Home Warranty Benefits

  • First month free
  • Protection for unexpected expense
  • 24/7 claims hotline
  • Network of over 15,000 technicians

Author Details

Cat Lafuente Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt