- Calculate what you are able to pay. Before negotiating a payment plan for medical bills, it's important to create a budget to find out exactly how much you can afford to pay monthly. Budget all your living expenses and income to find out where your money is going and where you may be able to cut costs to make token payments on your medical bills. Make sure that the amount is something you can pay each month.
Call the billing department at the medical facility where you owe money. Just maintaining contact with them and explaining your situation will go a long way toward getting a workable payment plan. Explain how much and how often you can comfortably pay. Most billing offices will work with you if you're showing good faith by making some sort payment.
- Consider a credit or debt counseling service. Payments, even token payments, may not be in a your budget, and outside help via a credit counselor may be beneficial, as they can work out a payment plan for you with creditors. Alternatively, if the medical bills have already been sent to a collection agency, credit counselors can stop harassing calls and negotiate lower payments. Some credit counselors charge a fee for their services, but many nonprofit agencies provide the service at a reduced cost or for free.
- Contact a local Department of Human Services about Medicaid and Medicare or an independent agency such as The Patient Advocate Foundation for help with medical insurance or bills. These programs may be able to offer help with past medical bills as well as future or recurring bills. Alternatively, the Children's Health Insurance Program, offered by the federal government, helps with medical costs and insurance for under-insured children.
- Investigate debt consolidation companies carefully before signing with one to help pay medical bills. These companies charge set-up, closing and interest fees that often cost more than the original medical bills. Working with bill collectors personally or through a nonprofit credit counselor usually offers lower payments and less overall debt than using consolidation loan services.