Should You Use Credit Cards to Pay for Medical Bills?
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Should You Use Credit Cards to Pay for Medical Bills?

The cost associated with healthcare can be daunting—and often comes unexpectedly creating a financial hardship paired with health stresses. According to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 14% of Americans struggle to pay medical bills. When those bills coming piling in, credit cards can seem like a viable option to pay off medical debt, but is it a healthy one?

Credit cards can be a convenient route when you’re slapped with a medical bill higher than you can pay. But before you pull out the plastic, make sure you’ve outlined all other options. Financial experts urge people to only consider paying with a credit card if the card has 0% APR for a given amount of time and you can pay it off before interest rates kick in. It’s also important when choosing this option that you don’t already have credit card debt, because borrowers can quickly find themselves in even more debt. Experts agree that this possibility means there are often more downsides than upsides to using a credit card for these types of expenses.

Instead, the first route to take—after checking that there are no mistakes on your bill and speaking to your insurance company to confirm you’re receiving the full extent of your coverage—is to talk to the hospital about a payment plan. Health professionals are known to be more lenient when it comes to paying back healthcare and will often work out payment plans with zero interest that work for your budget, often without penalty for partial payments. It’s also possible to try to negotiate your bill if it’s higher than you can afford. Experts suggest asking for the Medicare rate, which can help reduce your repayment.

Your health and your family’s health is of the utmost importance, so rest assured there are options that will allow you to continue to maintain both your medical, and financial health.