ou've probably heard the saying health is wealth, but it often feels more like wealth is health in today's world. Medical costs have increased significantly over the last decade, leaving many individuals and families unable to afford the necessary medical care.
But let's be real - when it comes to the well-being of you and your loved ones, there's no compromising. Even if your insurance falls short and your savings aren't enough to cover those hefty medical bills, you won't settle for anything less than the best.
That's when you look for alternative options to manage your medical expenses. And fortunately, there's a financial lifeline that can lighten your burden: Personal loans!
This article will explore how you can manage medical expenses with personal loans. So, let's dive in!
Medical Expenses Requiring Financial Assistance
Medical expenses can become a significant burden for individuals and families, thus, necessitating financial assistance to manage them effectively. While some medical costs are covered by insurance, relieving the burden to some extent, not all expenses fall under the coverage. In such cases, seeking financial support becomes crucial. Here are some common medical expenses that are typically not covered by insurance:
- Cosmetic Surgery
- Dental services
- Hearing Aids
- Uncovered Prescription Drugs
- Acupuncture and Other Alternative Therapies
- Weight Loss Programs and Weight Loss Surgery
- Infertility Treatment
- Sterilization Reversal
- Travel vaccines
- LASIK surgery or other eye surgeries
But here’s the deal - even if insurance does provide the coverage, you are still responsible for copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, or out-of-network charges that take a substantial toll on your finances. Apart from this, the rising cost of healthcare in the USA further complicates the matter, making it even more crucial to explore financial assistance options.
Why Are Medical Expenses Rising in the USA?
Medical costs have skyrocketed in recent years, and various factors contribute to it. Here are a few key factors at play:
Technological advancements have undoubtedly benefited patients but often come with a hefty price tag. Since huge research costs are associated with them, they are then passed to the patients as high fees.
Hospital and Facility Charges
Hospital fees, including room charges, procedures, and administrative costs, have significantly increased due to rising inflation. Additionally, specialized facilities like rehabilitation or long-term care facilities can be extremely costly.
An Aging Population and Chronic Diseases
The demand for healthcare services has increased with an aging population and a higher prevalence of chronic diseases. This increased demand strains the healthcare system, leading to rising costs.
Prescription Drug Costs
The prices of prescription medications have been rising significantly. Pharmaceutical companies heavily invest in research and development, and the costs associated with drug manufacturing and marketing are often passed on to consumers.
Lack of Price Transparency
Patients often find themselves unaware of the costs associated with their healthcare services until they receive the bill. This lack of price transparency poses a significant challenge, making it difficult for individuals to make informed decisions and effectively compare costs. This makes them overpay for healthcare and services.
Personal Loans for Your Medical Expenses
Personal loans are general types of loans that can be used for any purpose. But, generally, the lenders offer medical loans, personal loans designed to cover medical expenses. It provides the necessary funds for medical treatments, procedures, hospital stays, medications, and other healthcare-related costs.
The loans are usually unsecured and require a good credit score and history. However, you can also apply for a secured personal loan if you don't have a good credit score or history. But you need to keep the collateral in this case.
Pros and Cons of Personal Loans
Are you thinking if personal loans are the best fit for you or not? In such a case, it’s better to weigh the pros and cons of the loan.
Here are the pros of obtaining a personal loan:
Quick Access to Funds
Medical emergencies can't wait. With a personal loan, you can get access to the loan faster. You can access the fund in days or hours based on your lender.
Flexible Use of Funds
There are no restrictions on how you can use the borrowed funds. So, you can use the money as needed to cover medical bills, procedures, medications, or any other related expenses.
No Collateral Required
Personal loans are usually unsecured, meaning you don't need to provide collateral to secure the loan. This reduces the risk of losing your assets if you cannot repay the loan.
Fixed Repayment Terms
You'll have a predetermined monthly payment and a fixed repayment period. This can make it easier to budget and plan for loan repayment.
Here are the cons of obtaining a personal loan:
Since personal loans are unsecured, they have higher interest rates than secured loans, such as home or auto loans. Your credit score and history determine the interest rate. Thus, if you have a bad credit score or history, you may be offered a higher interest rate making the loan expensive.
Personal loans can temporarily manage medical expenses, but it's not the permanent solution. So, if you already have multiple debts, such as credit card balances or student loans, adding a personal loan can strain your financial situation further. It's crucial to consider your ability to repay the loan and ensure it fits your budget.
Risk of Default
Defaulting on a personal loan can have serious consequences, including damage to your credit score and a negative impact on your financial future. Since the loan is unsecured, the lender may pursue legal action to recover the outstanding debt, which can result in wage garnishment or property seizure.
Some personal loans have prepayment penalties if you pay off the loan earlier than the agreed-upon term. So, if you plan to pay off the loan ahead of schedule to save on interest, check if your loan includes any prepayment penalties.
Scams and Predatory Lending Practices
Plenty of scams or predatory lending pretend to offer personal loans at cheap rates with no credit check. So, make sure to research and choose reputable lenders or financial institutions.
Here are some of the legit and best lenders that we suggest:
Impact on Credit Score
Personal loans can improve and hurt your credit score, depending on how you use them. Check out this entire article on How Do Personal Loans Impact Your Credit Score?
How to Apply for a Personal Loan?
If you want to apply for a personal loan, the process is similar to applying for any loan. Here are some steps to consider:
- Check your credit: Review your credit report and credit score to understand your creditworthiness. Good credit can help you secure better loan terms.
- Research lenders: Explore different lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders, to find the best options for your needs. Compare interest rates, fees, and repayment terms.
- Calculate the required loan amount: Estimate the total amount of medical expenses you need to cover. Consider the amount covered by health insurance or other sources and only borrow the amount to bridge that financial shortfall.
- Gather necessary documents: Prepare the required documents, such as identification proof, income verification (pay stubs, tax returns), bank statements, and any additional documents specified by the lender.
- Prequalify and compare loans: Prequalify with multiple lenders and compare the offers. Choose the best deal based on the cost and loan terms provided.
- Complete the application: Once you have chosen the best deal, proceed with the loan and formally apply for the loan.
Alternatives to Manage Medical Expenses Without Personal Loans
Even if you don't qualify for personal loans or you feel like personal loans aren't the right fit for you, here are some alternatives to check out:
Medical Payment Plans
Hospitals and health centers provide medical payment plans to help patients manage their medical expenses. In these plans, you don't have to pay the hefty sum upfront but can pay off in monthly installments over an extended period, often with little or no interest.
Medical Credit Cards
There are credit cards specifically designed for healthcare expenses. You can apply for these cards as they usually offer promotional financing options or lower interest rates for a certain period. But, it's crucial to carefully review the terms and conditions and assess your ability to repay the debt within the promotional period.
Medicaid or Other Government Assistance Programs
Medicaid and other government assistance programs are available that provide healthcare coverage for low-income individuals and families. You can research the programs available in your area and determine whether you are eligible.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
If you have a high-deductible health insurance plan, you may have access to an HSA. These accounts allow you to save pre-tax dollars specifically for medical expenses. The best thing about these accounts is that withdrawals from an HSA for qualified medical expenses are tax-free.
If you have no other options, consider setting up a crowdfunding campaign on platforms like GoFundMe or Kickstarter. You can share your storytelling about why you need the money for medical expenses and ask for financial support from friends, family, or strangers who may be willing to contribute to your medical expenses.
Tips to Minimize Medical Expenses and Reduce Borrowed Amount
Invest in Preventative Care
As they say, prevention is better than cure. You should prioritize preventive measures like regular check-ups, screenings, and vaccinations. These can help identify and address health issues early on, potentially avoiding costly treatments later.
Choose an Affordable Healthcare Plan
While choosing health insurance, choose the one that suits your needs and offers adequate coverage. Also, check on what is included and what is not. It can be worth choosing high-premium health insurance with high coverage over low premiums with low coverage.
Shop Around for Healthcare Services
Research and compare the prices before undergoing any non-emergency medical procedures or tests. Some hospitals or centers can be overpriced, so having a price quote from different providers can help you find more affordable options. Also, remember that being pricey does not always mean high quality.
Consider Alternative Treatment Options
In some cases, alternative treatments or therapies may be more effective and affordable than traditional medical interventions. So, discuss with your healthcare provider to explore all available options.
Negotiate Medical Bills
If you receive high medical bills, don't hesitate to negotiate with healthcare providers or hospitals. They may be willing to offer discounts or work out a payment plan that fits your budget.
Managing medical expenses can be challenging, but personal loans can help alleviate the financial burden with the right approach. By assessing your medical expenses, understanding personal loans, and following the outlined steps, you can effectively manage your medical costs while maintaining financial stability.