How to Cope With Medical Debt

A nurse shares hard-earned lessons after years of financial struggle due to chronic illness.

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- Posted on Feb 26, 2021

Paying medical bills

The burden of medical debt can isolate a person from help, hope and healing. There is a better way. Here’s what I learned:  

  • Don’t feel bad about trying to get well. Americans spend $3.8 trillion per year on health care, and some 137 million of us suffer financial hardship from medical bills. Americans borrowed an estimated $88 billion last year to pay health costs.
     
  • The strengths, skills and faith that sustained you through illness will serve you now. You are more creative and resilient than you think!
     
  • Don’t isolate yourself or avoid the problem. Admitting your situation to just one friend can be empowering.
     
  • If you are unable to tackle the medical bills yourself, whether because of illness or lack of know-how, ask a trusted friend, relative or professional for help.
     
  • Don’t delay. Explaining your situation to healthcare institutions early in the process makes it much easier to negotiate new payment arrangements or a reduction of the bill.
     
  • Approach healthcare business offices with an open mind. Most share your goal of resolving your debt and can offer solutions and even remove duplicate or erroneous charges.
     
  • Give something to someone else every day. You may not have extra money, but you always have resources. A word of encouragement, a good book to pass along, a prayer. Even if all you have is a candy bar, share it with another person. Doing so will show you that you have enough. With God in your corner, you are enough.

Read more: How Her Faith Helped Her Face Up to Overwhelming Medical Debt

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