Medical debt spares no one, regardless of age or education status. Even those who are financially stable are facing medical debt. Actually, over 50 percent of Americans who have medical debt don't even have other types of debt on their credit reports. The fear of medical debts can prevent people from seeking the medical care they so desperately need, which can be dangerous. This fear is common because about one-third of Americans admitted to postponing medical care to spare themselves the medical costs.
Having medical debt hanging over your head can create a high-amount of unwanted stress, so it's vital to understand how to pay off some or all of your medical debt.
Review Your Itemized Bill
Have you ever received a ginormous medical bill in the mail and began to panic? Well, that paper bill might not even be correct. A lot of medical providers send you a paper bill showing your total balance owed without the individual charges that add up to your sum total. Request an itemized bill; it's an essential step to take when attempting to reduce your medical bills. Also, if you have a digital bill you can easily access the individual service and fees charged through your medical provider's patient portal.
Once you have access to your itemized bill, it's time to review it. This part can be a little tricky if you have no idea what you're looking for. There are a few things to look for when reviewing your bill, such as are there charges for services that you never received? Did the medical provider bill my insurance correctly? Was I charged for out-of-network services when I'm actually in-network?
Negotiate Your Medical Bills
As quiet as it's kept, you can negotiate your medical bills . The most important step for successful negotiating is to ask open-ended questions because this will push the provider to reveal the discounts, programs, and waivers that could help you.
Not only is it important to ask open-ended questions, but it's a great idea to incentivize the provider. For example, offer to pay your bill in full if the fees are waived or offer to pay your bill in full if you were charged the same rates Medicare would pay.
If this entire negotiation process seems a bit overwhelming, you don't even need to negotiate with the provider yourself. There are multiple companies that will aid you in lowering your medical bills for a 20%-30% share of the money you no longer need to pay for. This is convenient because if you don't receive any savings, you don't have to pay them.
Apply For Financial Assistance
More than 27 million Americans did not have health insurance , including 58% of low-income working adults and 44% of young adults in the year 2020. If you lack health insurance or your health insurance doesn't provide great coverage for your medical expenses, then you may be eligible for financial assistance.
Many hospitals offer financial assistance , but you need to apply for it. It's vital to apply as soon as possible because most programs disqualify your eligibility for assistance after about 240 days after the medical services were provided. Most applications require the patient to provide a detailed expense list, list of assets, family member information, proof of income, and tax returns .
Enrolling in the medical provider's payment plan is the most popular method to pay off medical bills. Payment plans are fitting for anyone who wants to make payments on their bill, but can't pay it off in one lump sum payment. The frequency of payment and payment amount is unique to the terms you negotiate with your medical provider. Usually, the entirety of your amount owed is divided into numerous equal payments over a period, until your balance is non-existent.
If you choose a payment plan, make sure not to choose payments that prevent you from paying higher priority bills, since non-payment of medical debt has less immediate consequences than other bills.
Sadly, high medical costs continue to grow every year, which makes understanding how to lower medical costs an important tool every American should have in their toolbox. That's why it's critical to discover the options available to lower your debt, in order to avoid medical bankruptcy before your debt spirals out of control.
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Aaliyah Sydonie Williams is a lover of pomegranates, intimate concerts, fluffy socks and all things R&B. She's a founder of a college advice blog, Her Little Corner , where she dishes helpful advice for college students to slay their college experience. When Aaliyah isn't eating at Starbucks, she's studying for her courses in finance, discovering new spots in the city, and brushing up on her photography skills. Keep up with her at Aaliyah Williams (@aaliyahsydonie) .
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find , there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecole exclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause , marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression , anxiety , like all of it, mental health challenges , all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry ’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy . If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures , and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood , her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff , which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You , which stars Anne Hathaway.
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What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime ? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT , an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya , Megan Thee Stallion , Taraji P. Henson , and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole .
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes , life insurance , etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image by Christopher Marrs