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Russell G. Small

Credit cards not ideal for paying medical bills

Medical costs continue to rise, in Connecticut and across the country, and many people have been forced to take on or carry debt in order to afford necessary health care. There are ways that people can avoid putting medical bills on their credit cards or reduce the amounts that they need to charge. Among them are insurance options, paying down existing debts, payment plans and using cards as a last resort only.

High medical bills may be avoided by the use of insurance. While health insurance can be prohibitively expensive in some cases, there are options in the U.S. for people to purchase insurance at discounted rates. Some people do not buy insurance because they are in good health, but medical issues can crop up suddenly and leave the person with significant bills. Paying down other debts might help people avoid putting medical expenses on their credit cards. Paying the same amount in two payments, one earlier in the month, can reduce balances faster.

Some medical providers are willing to provide patients with interest-free payment plans as well. Signing up for a payment plan from the doctor or hospital can keep the bill off the person's credit card. Credit cards are designed for short-term financing; they are too expensive to reasonably be used to cover longer-term expenses like medical debts. For that reason, they should be used to cover medical bills only as a last resort.

People in Connecticut who are struggling to pay down their debts may have options to reduce or eliminate them. An attorney with experience practicing bankruptcy law might help by examining the client's financial circumstances and suggesting avenues to reduce or eliminate debts. An attorney may help the client complete required pre-bankruptcy counseling or draft and file a petition to begin Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings.

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