Patient Loans When You’re Running Out of Patience

Patient Loans

To quote Cannonball Adderley, “Sometimes things don’t lay the way they’s supposed a’ lay.” You’ve been trying to hold it together, trying to juggle bills and obligations and family, maybe slip in some sort of fun here and there, and then it happens. You have that accident. Then you receive that diagnosis. You get that call. And now you have to choose if you are going to take a patient loans, or not.

Medical surprises can be terrifying. They can be sobering. They often rattle our entire worlds. And they are almost always expensive.

The Challenges of Paying for Medical Care

Medical expenses are one of greatest challenges of modern American life, and not just among those of us heading towards our golden years. A recent study suggests that millennials carry more health care debt than their parents’ generation, and that they go into debt for medical care more often.

Approximately two-thirds of Americans filing for bankruptcy say medical issues are a major factor. Sometimes it’s the root of the struggle, other times it may simply be the tipping point – but medical debt is a game changer for many, many people.

While it helps to have insurance, that’s no longer a guarantee you won’t end up in debt. Deductibles begin adding up, or you discover gaps in your coverage which you didn’t anticipate, and before you know it, you start to feel that gnawing doubt in your gut about what exactly you’re going to do to take care of everything.

Everything is expensive…

Of course, it’s not just the medical care itself which is expensive. Health struggles often means missing work, for the patient or for the caregivers. It means more trips to the doctor, maybe multiple doctors, and sometimes any number of specialty clinics, pharmacies, or other sources of treatment. Now you’re paying more for gas, putting extra wear and tear on your vehicle, and – thanks to all the running about, trying to get better – spending more on dining out or ordering in. You may be paying for additional childcare as well, all while working less than before.

That’s probably why a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that 1 in 6 Americans under the age of 65 reported they’d had trouble paying their medical bills in the preceding twelve months. And you can’t open your computer or turn on the news without hearing variations of the same story over and over again:

Relevant stories…

She rushed to a nearby hospital… but first called ahead to make sure it took her insurance. When the hospital said yes, Briggs thought that meant she was covered… But two months after the surgery, she got a whopping bill for $4,727 from the surgeon… Like most of the doctors at the hospital, {the surgeon} practiced independently. He did not take her insurance… (NBC News, March 19th, 2019)

I’ve had asthma since age 12… I also developed an autoimmune disease that pretty much makes my skin attack itself. I’ve been to the hospital a few times for this as well. All of this adds up. Sometimes the ER doctor bills are separate from the hospital, so you will be charged more than a basic copay. Surgery is going to set you back separately as well… I feel like I’m in a never-ending battle with debt from medical bills and expenses. It’s literally the only negative thing on my credit report.  (BuzzfeedNews.com, January 17th, 2019)

I used up almost every penny of retirement savings for out of pocket and deductibles, meds. I don’t go to the eye doctor or buy expensive Restasis even though I have chronic dry eye, and a history of corneal abrasions. These are not covered. I gave up a pet. My car is 11 years old and needs a lot of work… (New York Times, January 11th, 2016)

Looking for Solutions

It’s not that we don’t want to pay our medical bills – most of us do. Some couples just start piling in all on their credit cards, hoping they’ll somehow eventually be able to catch up. Recently, we seem to hear more and more about families turning to crowdsourcing, trying to pay for essential procedures via GoFundMe or Kickstarter. Far more troubling are stories of those who simply avoid seeking essential medical care for themselves or loved ones in their care. Fear of deeper debt, collection agencies, garnished wages, or possessions being recollected, lead many to simply “make do” – adding further stress and possibly contributing to further medical difficulty as conditions go untreated.

For many of us, the worst part of any of this is the sense of helplessness to do anything about it. Some get angry. Others feel helpless or mired in despair. None of us escape undamaged from the experience. It’s not who we want to be; it’s not how we were meant to live. In the moment, though, it doesn’t always feel like we have a choice, so we put our heads down and press ahead as best we can, trying to set aside the gnawing sense that something is deeply wrong with this picture.

If any of this sounds familiar, the first thing you need to know is that you’re not alone. Being ill or getting injured is not a character flaw or a personal failure on your part. Being in debt from medical bills doesn’t make you a bad person – if anything, you’re in good company. Too much good company these days, it seems.

Patient Loans – Cover Your Medical Expenses

What you may not know is that patient loans for medical expenses are a well-established branch of the financial industry. That’s what happens when so many people are in a similar situation – services arise to address the need. There are a wide range of types of medical expenses loans, and a range of providers for them. Like any financial decision, it’s worth taking a few moments and considering which options might best fit your needs and most effectively address your situation. Even if you decide not to pursue a loan to help manage medical bills, it’s never a bad idea to better understand the options.

One of the most important things you need to do when getting a medical loan is research. Know what you’re getting into, especially when you make important financial decisions. But Loanry can help you with that. Not only we help you with budgeting, saving, and getting wealthy (check out Budgetry, Billry and Wealthry) but we also help you find the best lender for you, and the best loan for your situation.

Why Would I Need A Medical Loan?

Patient loans may be taken out for a variety of medical expense reasons. The most common, not surprisingly, are expenses from emergency care. The unexpected illness. The unpredictable events. The tragedies none of us are ever truly prepared for. There’s no shame in being caught unprepared for the unimaginable.

That doesn’t mean, however, that reasonable loans may not be available for treatment not normally thought of as an “emergency.” Dental care, LASIK or other vision care, hearing aids, mobility assistance, chiropractic care, cosmetic services – even weight loss programs – can be every bit as essential to an involved, fulfilling life. Being healthy isn’t just about staying alive; it’s about living.

Now, if you’re like me, you started worrying as soon as words like “loan” and “expenses” started popping up. You may be trying to remember your credit score (or you may be trying not to). Sure, having a great credit score does make the process a bit easier. It may secure you a slightly better rate. But patient loans for medical expenses are made with the assumption that things haven’t gone entirely as planned. Believe it or not, there are plenty of financial institutions who understand the financial realities of normal people managing as best they can.

A low credit score is not an automatic disqualifier for you. Some companies actually specialize in medical loans for bad credit. Besides, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

So let’s take a breath or two and talk about a few of the many options for medical loans. Then, if you need more information, you can read up loans for medical bills in greater detail or reach out for more personal guidance.

7 Reasons to Use a Medical Loan: Dr. Debt

Types of Patient Loans

If you have a good relationship with your local bank already, you could begin by asking about an unsecured loan. This is a loan that doesn’t require you to put up collateral, and the interest rates tend to be a bit lower. Unsecured loans generally assume you have pretty good credit and a track record with the specific institution from which you’re borrowing.

Maybe that’s not you. That’s OK – it’s not most of us. Another option to consider is a secured medical loan. A secured medical loan is a type of patient loan in which you’re asked to put up some collateral – a house or car or something else of substantial value. This gives the bank some assurance, and sometimes helps keep your interest rate under control.

Home equity loans or loans against your 401k fall under this general category as well. These can be scary because if you don’t keep up with the payments, you might lose the item used to secure the loan. That doesn’t mean they’re always a bad idea, just that you need to go in with your eyes open and pay attention to the terms and the details spelled out in the paperwork. Don’t be afraid to ask about anything you don’t entirely understand – no legitimate financial institution wants to surprise or fool you about how the loan works. They want you to be happy just as much as you want them to be happy.

Special Medical Credit Card

Some financial institutions offer special “Medical Credit Cards.” As the name suggests, these are designed specifically to help you pay for medical debt. Typical credit cards aren’t necessarily evil, but neither do they care why you need them, what you’re using them to purchase, or whether or not you’re likely to pay them off in a reasonable time.

As long as you keep using them and making those minimum payments, they’re more than happy to keep charging that interest and may even nudge up your credit limit from time to time. Medical Credit Cards, on the other hand, have a specific purpose, and many offer quite reasonable interest rates. Be aware, however, that any special rates they offer may have an expiration period, after which your costs can go up significantly. Even in times of financial anxiety and other concerns, read the terms – always.

Marketplace Lenders vs. That (Creepy) Storefront Around the Corner

Another option with which far too many people aren’t familiar is to consult a marketplace lender. What is that, exactly? Marketplace lending is a service-driven loan industry, usually based online, which competes for your business – in this case, by offering solutions to your medically-driven financial needs.

Many offer patient loan structures and programming specifically tailored for circumstances associated with medical expenses, from medical loans for bad credit to long-term installments with manageable monthly payments and reasonable interest rates. They understand medical finance and, more importantly, they know how to get creative to help you with loans for medical bills or related expenses.

But wait, you may be thinking – that’s kinda what that place a few blocks over says on their outdoor flashing sign! Or maybe you’ve seen a local commercial for a group you’ve never heard of claiming they want to help you bridge the gap until payday… surely they’re all the same, right?

Don’t get sucked into Payday Loans

Whatever you decide to do (or not do) about your medical expenses, there’s absolutely no reason to get sucked into payday loans or fall victim to predatory lenders based on temporary crises or difficult circumstances! There are too many reputable lenders you can find who are in it for the long game; they want for you to be happy and to share than fact with your friends, families, and social media circles. Unlike others you may have encountered, they don’t profit by using you up and casting you out. In fact, as crazy as it sounds, they want you to come through all of this successfully – they grow when you win.

If only the rest of the world worked on a similar model, right?

Making The Right Connections

That brings us to a rather important element of this discussion – how, exactly, do I find these legit lenders? How can I, with everything else going on, even figure out what sort of patient loans I should be considering?

That’s where we come in. We bring together our expertise across industries to connect patients with sources for medical finance solutions. We flip the traditional dynamic associated with getting a loan for medical bills or anything else. There’s no reason you should feel overwhelmed and alone, confused by the system and desperate for options. What you really are is a client, empowered to find a marketplace lender who compete for your business by putting together their best solutions and hoping you’ll consider giving them your business.

These are experts in medical financing who understand your situation. They exist to help people like us figure out how to push through times like this. They’re well-versed in the unique dynamics of patient loans. Some even specialize in medical loans for bad credit.

You’re probably wondering about the catch. What are we selling you? Nothing – nothing at all. Loanry gathers some basic information and offers a few money tools to help better determine your needs, then connects you with a participating lender to secure a solution both of you decide is best. We don’t charge you any fees or take any payments from you. Period. Once you’ve found a lender that meets your needs, the rest is between you and them.

I should warn you, though – we’re very good at finding just the right lender for your exact situation. It’s sort of a point of pride for us.

Looking Ahead

Once you’ve stabilized your current financial situation, particularly those bothersome medical bills, don’t overlook the value of planning ahead. It’s never too late to change financial habits or mindsets, no matter what your circumstances or income. Even minor adjustments now can make a huge difference down the road.

For example, some medical expenses are tax deductible. These vary with your income and the type of medical expenses involved, but if you’ve been in a position to need a patient loan, you may have enough to deduct some of your health expenses from your next tax return.

While the IRS is probably not going to help you out with your gym membership or hair transplant, you may be able to deduct part or all of the expense of time in the hospital, prescriptions, eyeglasses, hearing aids, addiction recovery, transportation to and from your doctors or other facilities – even some mental health or preventative care. The IRS even has a free, online publication all about this very topic if you’d like to know more. And if your tax situation is a bit on the complicated side, we can help connect you to the right tax professional or tax-related services. We might also be able to help you organize your tax records as you go using your smart phone and our free, easy-to-use app.

Consider your credit score!

Another thing to consider going forward is taking control of your credit score, starting with reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Then, commit yourself to taking small but regular steps to gradually raise that credit rating. Don’t get discouraged if you’re starting off lower than you’d like, and do not let anyone tell you that it’s hopeless! It’s not always about where you are, but about how far you’ve come – and the best time to start is now.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t give up. You may wish you’d done some things differently, or you may be discouraged because so much has happened that you couldn’t change. There are no easy fixes, but there are solutions. Breathe, focus, and begin.

You got this.

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