If you or a loved one is currently in debt with medical bills, there is one simple thing you can do that just might save you money.

I think about the past year of my life and the people that surround me. I think about my friend Steve and his wife, having a baby, and the medical bills I know they built up. I think about my wife Alicia and I, and how she has a new hobby of getting bucked (not falling) off of horses. It's not cheap on the medical side. I think of my friend Connie and her husband Dan, we lost her this year to stage 4 cancer and I know those were not cheap bills at all. Then I saw some new information in a survey done by LendingTree and I thought maybe this blog will help others save.

In a survey done by LendingTree last month, they found that 60% of Americans have been in debt due to medical bills at some point in their lives.  37% of the 1,550 Americans surveyed currently are in debt with medical bills and another 23% have been in debt in the past.  And of the people with medical debt, almost 1 in 5 say that it is preventing them from purchasing a home.

All of those statistics are pretty shocking, but what was most incredible about the survey done by LendingTree was that the vast majority of people who attempt to negotiate their debt, reduce their amount owed.  That's right, 93% of people who attempted to negotiate their debt down, succeeded.

Of the 1,550 people surveyed, 697 attempted to negotiate their bill and 641 people were at least partially successful.  So, the basic lesson here is to always try to talk with a representative from the billing department because you will more often than not end up paying less.

But how do you end up paying less?  What should you ask for?  LendingTree provided 5 easy tips on what to do to ensure that you aren't paying too much:

  • Understand what should be covered by your insurance.
  • Get an itemized copy of your hospital bill.
  • See if you qualify for payment assistance programs.
  • Offer to pay upfront for a discount.
  • Enroll in a payment plan through the health care provider.

You can read more about the study, their methodology, and additional information on the tips they provided at LendingTree.com.

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