The past year has been a scary time for everyone, particularly those who have been hospitalized with COVID-19. For many individuals, it made an already bad financial situation worse. Those who were already having a difficult time with their bills before the pandemic are really struggling now. Bankruptcy attorney Xue Connelly weighs in on how to handle medical debt.

What Are the Options for Dealing with COVID-19 Medical Debt?

If you’re unable to cover a medical bill, try calling your medical provider’s office immediately. 

“Working with a doctor or hospital directly could give you more relief options, like an interest-free repayment plan, for example,” says Connelly. “This is a better option than many alternatives, like charging the bill to a credit card that accrues interest. The issue with this option is often when an individual cannot afford to pay their debts, they also cannot afford to keep up with a payment plan.” 

Should Medical Debt Be Paid with a Credit Card?

Many individuals decide to pay off their medical debt by taking on credit card debt. This is not the best way to handle your medical debt, as credit card companies are not willing to work out payment plans like medical providers are and credit cards typically have much higher interest rates than medical bills. 

“Taking one debt to pay the other creates a domino effect: the interest rates are higher so the debt is harder to pay off as time passes,” says Connelly.

If you are unable to make a medical debt payment plan with your medical provider work for you, it is still not advised to pay your medical debt off with a credit card. Instead, consider consulting an attorney who could help you access credit counseling or courses to assist with budgeting to help you avoid more debt piling up. 

Do Not Wait Until You Are Drowning in Debt

“If you wait until you are overwhelmed with debt or there is a lawsuit filed, it is a lot harder to recover financially,” says Connelly, “You may have more debt piled up, burned through your savings, and/or gotten behind on your mortgage.” 

Because medical debt is unsecured debt, meaning it’s the same as credit card debt, personal loans and utility bills, it can be discharged or eliminated by filing for bankruptcy. By discussing filing for bankruptcy with an attorney first, you can save time and money. For more information on filing for bankruptcy due to COVID-19 medical debt, please contact Xue Connelly.