Consumers can access medical loans and pay their medical debt via financial products such as personal loans, or through financial assistance programs. For those who are having trouble finding or paying medical loans, know that you are not alone. About $88 billion of outstanding medical bills have been sent to debt collectors.1
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, approximately one in five Americans is dealing with medical debt.1 If you are struggling to pay medical bills, you may be looking for options on how to get a medical loan.
Here, you will learn about medical bills, how to deal with them, and ways you can get your finances back on track so you can focus on your recovery.
A Step-by-Step Guide: How To Get Medical Loans
For bills that are accurate and legitimate, make paying them a priority. Unpaid medical bills have the ability to bring down your credit score and put you at risk of having your debt sent to a collections agency. If you can’t pay off your medical bill right away, there are plenty of places that offer medical loans. To make sure you get the best medical loan for your financial situation, follow the steps below.
Step One: Check Your Credit Score
The first step in finding the best medical loans is to check your current credit score and credit report. Your financial and credit history will help determine what types of personal loans you are eligible for. Usually, consumers with an excellent credit score are able to receive approval on loans with a lower interest rate, a more flexible payback term, and a higher loan amount. Bad credit borrowers, on the other hand, will usually qualify for lower funding amounts and higher interest rates.
Step Two: Calculate Your Desired Loan Amount
The next step is to calculate how much funding you will need to cover your medical expenses. Take all your bills and add up the balances to find out how much debt you have to pay off. If your total balance is on the higher side, you are most likely better off going with a long-term personal loan, while short-term personal loans may be better suited for lower balances.
Step Three: Compare Medical Loans
After you know how much funding you need, research lenders online and in your area. From there, you can compare interest rates, payback terms, funding amounts, and turnaround times for the various loan products available.
Step Three: Find Medical Loans and Submit Your Application
The final step is to submit your personal loan application! Once you have found a lender you think would be a good fit, fill out their online application. If approved, work with a loan agent to set up a payment plan that works for your personal budget.
Lastly, your lender will give you a loan agreement to sign before they send your approved funds. Before signing, be sure to read over your contract and make sure you understand everything. Ask your lender for clarification on anything you feel uncertain about. Once you feel comfortable, you can sign the agreement and receive your loan proceeds.
Medical Loan Applications
Try to limit the number of medical loan applications you submit to just one or two. Every time you submit a loan application, a hard credit inquiry will be recorded on your credit profile. If you accumulate too many hard credit inquiries on your profile within a short period of time, lenders may label this activity as a red flag and be reluctant to work with you in the future.
What Is a Medical Loan?
A medical loan is essentially an unsecured personal loan used to pay for medical expenses. Medical expenses can include everything from a planned procedure to an emergency trip to the hospital emergency room. Borrowers can apply for unsecured personal loans to cover medical costs via the following:
- Online providers
- Direct lenders
- Credit unions
- Bad credit lenders
Unlike secured personal loans, unsecured personal loans do not require the borrower to offer collateral. Collateral is a possession or piece of property that borrowers use to secure certain types of personal loans. Since borrowers don’t use collateral, lenders instead look at their credit score, income, and other aspects of their financial history to determine loan approval.
How To Deal With Medical Bills
Medical bills can be complex and often have errors. Whenever you receive a medical bill, review it carefully to ensure its accuracy. To start, look at the sender. If the bill is directly from your healthcare provider, ask for an itemized receipt and check over the costs. Ask for clarification on any charges that seem unfamiliar to you; there is a chance they are there in error. If you receive a bill from your healthcare provider that seems out of the blue, you may also have coverage under the No Surprises Act.
If the bill is from a debt collector, it’s essential to know your rights. The Debt Collection Rule, effective as of November 30, 2021, dictates how and when debt collectors are allowed to communicate with consumers.2 This ruling also mandates that debt collectors disclose who the account creditor is, along with any account numbers associated with any debt they seek to collect. If you don’t see any of this information, the debt collector may have sent you a bill in error. You can then dispute the incorrect medical collections, so the error doesn’t end up negatively affecting your credit report.
How To Choose the Right Loan for Medical Expenses
|Criteria set by lenders to qualify for a loan.
|Check lender-specific requirements like employment status, income level, and residency.
|Duration over which the loan is repaid.
|Longer terms mean smaller monthly payments but more interest over time; shorter terms are the opposite.
|Additional charges associated with the loan.
|Look out for origination fees, late payment fees, and prepayment penalties.
|Fixed vs. variable interest rates.
|Fixed rates stay the same throughout the loan term, while variable rates can fluctuate.
|Steps to apply for a medical loan.
|Typically involves an online application, document submission, and possibly a credit check.
|Involving another person as a guarantor.
|A co-signer with a good credit score can improve approval changes and possibly secure better terms.
|Loan Use Restrictions
|Limitations on how loan funds can be used.
|Ensure the loan can cover all intended medical expenses, including aftercare or related costs.
|Assistance provided by the lender.
|Consider lenders with strong customer support for guidance and help during the loan term.
One of the most important details of a loan is the interest rates. Your interest rate will determine how long it will take to pay off your personal loan, as well as how much the loan will cost overall.
As discussed, borrowers with a better credit score are more likely to receive lower rates. If you are trying to boost your credit score in order to receive better interest rates, you can try the following:
- Work on your payment history.
- Pay off outstanding debts.
- Limit the number of credit applications you submit.
Origination Fees and Other Costs
During your loan research, check to see which lenders require origination fees or other costs. An origination fee is a charge implemented by some lenders when borrowers sign their loan contracts. Borrowers can usually choose to pay their origination fee upfront or have the charge added to their total loan balance. Some lenders charge no origination fees at all.
Another important aspect of your personal loan to consider is the repayment terms. The longer you take to pay back a loan, the more you will end up paying out of pocket in interest fees and other charges. To pay off your balance faster, try to pay more than the minimum monthly payment on your medical loan.
Alternatives to Medical Loans
Before submitting an application and taking out a medical loan, consider these alternatives.
Before putting your own money towards medical costs, see what your healthcare provider can do for you. Often, health insurance will cover a portion, if not the entire cost of a medical procedure or ER visit.
Financial Assistance Programs
Depending on your financial situation, you may be eligible for government medical financing assistance. Medicaid and CHIP are two government services that can help people cover medical expenses for both adults and children.
Medical Payment Plans
Work with your provider to see what kind of medical payment plans they have available. With a medical payment plan, your provider will break up your total balance into fixed monthly payments, which can help make paying off your debt seem less daunting and more manageable. Furthermore, you won’t accumulate interest rate fees when you go with a medical payment plan over a traditional personal loan.
Medical Credit Cards
You may also consider getting a medical credit card. CareCredit offers medical credit cards accepted by over 250,000 providers throughout the United States. This medical credit card covers medical procedures like:
- General vision care.
- Dermatology procedures.
- Dentistry procedures.
- Certain veterinary procedures.
- Hearing care.
Medical credit cards work much like a standard credit card, except the credit is used specifically for medical purposes, and payments go directly to your medical provider. You may also be able to save money on interest rates and payback terms when you use a medical credit card instead of a traditional card.
Consolidate Medical Bills
If you have several outstanding medical bills, it may be a good idea to consolidate your debt with a personal loan. Instead of making multiple payments on several different bills, you can simplify the process by making one single payment to cover all your medical debt.
Be sure to stay away from predatory loan options like fast payday loans, as these types of loans often leave borrowers with more debt.
FAQ: Paying Medical Debt
Most lenders may require a minimum credit score to approve a medical loan. While the exact score can vary, many medical loans are accessible to individuals with fair credit. It’s advisable to check with specific online lenders for their requirements.
Yes, it’s possible to obtain medical loans with a fair or bad credit score. Some online lenders specialize in offering personal loans to individuals with less-than-perfect credit scores. However, be prepared for potentially higher interest rates and different loan terms.
Loan amounts for medical loans can vary significantly based on your credit score. Generally, a higher credit score may qualify you for larger loan amounts at better terms, while a lower score might limit the amount you can borrow.
Repaying a loan early can save you money on interest and potentially improve your credit score. However, it’s important to check if your loan agreement includes any prepayment penalties. Most lenders allow early repayment, but it’s always best to confirm.
When selecting an online lender for a medical loan, consider factors like interest rates, loan amounts, fees, the lender’s reputation, and customer service. Also, review the terms to ensure they align with your ability to repay and your financial situation.
Personal loans for medical expenses are specifically intended to finance medical-related costs. They may offer different terms or special conditions compared to general personal loans, such as deferred payments or specific repayment plans tailored for medical expenses.
Generally, medical loans can be used for a wide range of medical expenses, including surgeries, treatments, medical equipment, and sometimes even related travel costs. However, it’s important to verify with the lender if there are any restrictions on the use of the loan.
Interest rates for medical loans can vary widely, especially for those with fair credit. Rates are often higher than for those with an excellent credit score, but can still be competitive. It’s crucial to compare offers from multiple lenders to find the most favorable rate.
The speed of funding for medical loans can vary among lenders. Some lenders may offer quick processing and disburse funds within a few business days, while others might take longer. If timing is crucial, look for lenders known for fast funding.
Yes, refinancing medical loans is possible, especially if your credit score has improved since you took out the original loan. Refinancing can potentially lower your interest rate and reduce monthly payments. However, it’s important to weigh the costs of refinancing against the potential savings.
A Word From CreditNinja on Medical Loans
Dealing with medical expenses can be stressful, especially when you are in the midst of recovery. Take the pressure off by going with a trusted lender you can rely on. If you have questions about medical loans, installment loans, interest rates, or how you can find an affordable deal on funding, feel free to reference the CreditNinja financial resource blog!
You can also check out CreditNinja for personal loan options. Borrowers have been coming to CreditNinja seeking great deals on personal loans since 2018! With CreditNinja personal loans, borrowers may be able to enjoy benefits like:
- Competitive rates
- Quick funding*
- Flexible payments
- Easy application process
Head on over to the CreditNinja application to see how much funding you could get with a personal loan today!
- Medical debt | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Understand how the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule impacts you | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- CareCredit vs General Purpose Credit Cards | CareCredit
- Help with Bills | USAGov
- Navigating Medical Bills in the US | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau