Without fail, he shows up. You know him. We all know him and we all hate him.
Murphy’s Law always tends to show up when we least expect it. And it’s always unwanted and feels undeserved. He showed up last month when my hubs’ doctor erroneously took our money and he has reared his ugly head yet again this month.
Honestly, this time it is completely my fault, as I knew this expense should have been expected but I guess pregnant brain got the better of me and I simply forgot. Whatever the excuse, whatever the reason I come up I still forgot to prepare for this expense. So even the title of this article is “How to Handle an Unexpected Medical Bill”, the truth is, most of the time these things are not that unexpected.
My doctor requires us to pay our deductible upfront before having our baby because as they put it “they do not receive payment for 9 months from our insurance company”. Now, what I hate most is that my doctor’s office always gives you the notice with a month warning. Like us, common folk got thousands of dollars just chilling that we do not need.
I began to panic because we do not have the money to pay – I mean of course we have our emergency fund and slush fund, but I do not believe in draining your savings account for not emergency purposes. The thing is, legally we do not have to pay them a dime….yet. Since we have not been billed, we technically do not owe them anything and honestly, I was completely tempted to just “screw it” and not pay them.
However, that would not be very nice of me first off and I would rather have the money paid before our baby arrives than to have to worry about that expense afterwards. But, the issue still stands that we can’t afford to pay them a lump sum right now.
That is when I decided that we needed a plan. I figured out how much we could to realistically pay them each week before our baby arrives. Of course, they did not like my payment plan idea but when I explained to them that it was literally the only way they were going to receive their money from us, they backed off.
That is the power of a budget in my opinion. Of course, they would have loved us to swipe a credit card, but we do not have any and the fact that we are even willing to pay them when legally we are not yet obligated to do so made them change their minds.
So now, our one income budget is changing yet again and it’s no fun having to strap ourselves even thinner, but again I should have prepared for this months ago.
If you are finding yourself in a similar situation where you need help tracking and figuring out a payment plan for a large expense that you owe, here’s what you can do:
Figure Out How Much You Can Pay
Look over the total dollar amount owe and if they give you a timeframe to pay it (for example they want us to pay in one month but that is unrealistic but we have five months before our child is born and we can pay off the balance by then) and figure out how much you would need to put aside each week/month/or even day.
$2,0000/20 (Weeks) = $100 a week
$2,000/4 (Weeks) = $500 a week
$2,000/12 (Weeks) = $166.67 a week
Figure out how much you can afford and let them know that you are willing and able to pay them that amount each week/month. Even if they are persistent that you pay more or a lump sum, remain strong in your stance. You know how much you can afford, do not back down.
Get it in Writing
Since we are not legally bound to pay the amount yet (since it is technically not debt yet and not owed), I did not worry too much with having our agreement in writing but I have forced companies to give me our agreement in writing before. This is something that you will want to do especially when you are legally obligated to pay the debt.
This prevents them from being able to take you to court for failure to pay or charge you anything outside of the terms and conditions you agreed to (like interest or fees). Keep in mind though, that this is a legally binding agreement and you will have to stick to the payment plan you created so make sure before you call the company with your payment plan that you have figured out a payment plan that works best for you.
Track Your Payments
Create a way to track your payments and how you are paying them so you can keep up with the information in case they ever decide to contact you because they show you did not pay. For me, I use a simple Google Docs spreadsheet that tracks the total amount owed, date the payment was made, the amount the payment was in, the remaining balance (the total amount owed minus the payment amount) and the reference number from my bank showing where I paid them.
Keep track of your payments in whatever way works best for you.
If you find yourself in a similar situation as us, do these three things to help keep you from going insane or swiping a credit card to foot the bill. The debt-free journey isn’t easy, and Murphy’s Law makes it even more challenging but nothing that was ever worth it has ever been easy.
How do you handle an (un)expected medical bill?
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