Welcome back. In our first post we began discussing steps to take after a serious illness or injury strikes and leaves you in over your head with medical debt. The first three steps involved organizing your bills, looking for errors and appealing rejected claims with your insurer.

Here are the last four:

Consider asking for a payment plan. If you just need more time to pay your bill, most hospitals are willing to give you a payment plan. That means you are allowed to pay over a given length of time without being charged interest. 

Consider bargaining for the insurer’s negotiated rate with that hospital. The negotiated rate is often much lower than what the hospital is trying to charge you. You can also look at rates at other hospitals or the Medicare rates to use as ammunition when asking for a lower bill.

Consider paying the entire bill upfront at a discount. Some hospitals are willing to give you a discount for offering to pay your bill upfront. Of course, this would mean you would have to have a chunk of money to hand over, and using a credit card is usually a bad option.

Get help from a professional. This all might seem far too overwhelming to you, especially if you have recently gone through a serious illness or injury. In that case, you may want to consider asking a professional such as an experienced bankruptcy lawyer for help.

Finally, one of the most important things to remember when it comes to trying to negotiate a lower hospital bill or arranging a payment plan is that it’s important to act quickly. Although it may seem tempting to ignore the hospital bills as they arrive in the mail month after month, this will only make the situation worse.

The best thing to do is start working towards a solution right away, whether that means taking the above steps on your own or finding a professional to help you do so.

Source: Forbes, “7 Tips For Fighting And Paying A Big Hospital Bill,” Caroline Mayer, Sept. 17, 2013