How can I negotiate a large medical debt?


Q. How do I negotiate a payment with a medical clinic? They won’t budge on how much they want each month. Some bills are four years old.
— In debt

A. Unfortunately, it is up to the creditor whether or not they want to negotiate a settlement.

But generally, if the debt is in collections, you may have a better shot at settling the debt.

You can make a variety of offers to the clinic, said Karra Kingston, a bankruptcy attorney in Union City.

You could try to offer a large payment upfront followed by monthly payments, or just a large lump sum payment, she said.

“You can also try showing the creditor that you are going through a financial hardship and can’t afford to pay back the full amount,” Kingston said. “Sometimes, this can be done by writing them a letter detailing your income and monthly expenses and showing them after your monthly expenses you have nothing left over.”

If this doesn’t work, you can always hire a debt settlement lawyer to see if they can help you negotiate, she said, but it’s important to know that lawyers can’t guarantee a settlement.

“If all of those options fail, and you have a large amount of medical debt, you may want to consider bankruptcy as a tool to wipe out all of your medical debt,” she said.

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This story was originally published on June 17, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.