Our most recent blog offered our first set of tips on what to do when facing an exorbitant medical bill from a hospital, physician, or other medical provider. These tips included negotiating the medical bill down, creating a payment plan, and looking into payment alternatives such as hospital and government-sponsored financial assistance programs.
Today’s blog will continue with this theme by exploring what people can do after these preliminary steps have been taken and there is still a billed amount that must be paid off. In other words, what choices do people have when they need cash to pay off medical expenses, and need that money quickly? Here are five options on how to pay for these unexpected medical costs, with some of the pros and cons associated with each choice.
1) Getting a cash advance from your credit card
In the face of large and unforeseen medical costs, one of the first sources for cash that people turn to is their credit card. On the positive side, borrowing money from a credit card is fast and easy. Unfortunately, with this ease-of-access comes some potentially serious long-term negatives, including high-interest charges, extra fees, late penalties, and the potential to cause serious harm to your credit score.
2) Taking money out of your retirement account
Getting money out of your 401(k) or IRA is also usually not that difficult; after all, it is your money and not an outside source from which were borrowing. That said, many financial experts recommend that you should consider the money you are targeting for your retirement as the last place to turn to for cash. That’s because taking out money from these funds will keep it from growing at the rate you may need to in order to financially survive your retirement years. There may also be penalty charges associated with taking money out of your retirement accounts prematurely.
3) Getting a home equity loan
With a home equity loan, you tap into the value of your property and “borrow” against it. While that may seem like a reasonable proposition, there are certain risks involved that must be taken into account. First of all, home equity loans must be paid back in full, with a set payment schedule; failure to pay back the loan may risk your ownership of your property. Home equity loans can also be risky because of fluctuations in the real estate market, as home prices can drop or stay the same for months and even years on end.
4) Getting personal loans from friends and family
Many people turn to friends and family when they are in need of cash quickly. If you have people in your life with the means and willingness to help, you are very fortunate indeed, but be careful: if you become unable to pay back the loan, you will be putting these personal and familial relationships at risk.
5) Calling J.G. Wentworth and selling your future structured settlement or annuity payments for cash
Last, but certainly not least, is an option you may have if you are either receiving, or scheduled to receive payments from a structured settlement or annuity: selling these future payments for cash sooner. What makes this option so appealing is that you are not borrowing money from an outside source; in fact, you are not borrowing money at all. Instead you are accessing the money that is owed to you sooner, in a lump sum, putting the cash you need into your hands quicker, so you may use it to pay off those medical bills as soon as you possibly can.
We hope this blog, as well as the one preceding it, have offered some good tips on how to handle sudden and unforeseen medical expenses. While we cannot offer you specific financial advice, we do hope that if you receive a structured settlement or annuity payments, you reach out to J.G. Wentworth to discuss your situation and see if you qualify to get the money you need sooner. Our client representatives are available anytime at 877-227-4713.
Nothing above is meant to provide financial or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services