How to Pay Medical Bills When You’re in Debt – 6 Solutions

Facing medical bills when you're in debt is incredibly daunting. Don't suffer financially. Learn 6 ways to pay medical bills when you're in debt here.
How to Pay Medical Bills When You're in Debt

It’s costly to be sick, and patients in debt are particularly vulnerable. Despite the government’s efforts to promote healthy workers, healthy eating, and active living, illnesses still arise, and more often than not, people aren’t financially ready for them.

This blog explains how you can afford to pay medical bills when you’re in debt. We also discuss how different types of employment can impact your circumstances when you become ill.

How Employment Impacts Your Ability to Pay Medical Bills

Casual Employees

Would you rather go to work while sick or risk being unpaid and potentially losing your job? Many casual employees face this dilemma, often dragging themselves to work despite their illness because they can’t afford to call in sick.

Without sick pay benefits, casual or contract workers might be forced to ignore their doctor’s advice and report to work. It’s not uncommon to hear of individuals suffering through injuries or illnesses just to secure their wages.

How Employment Impacts Your Ability to Pay Medical Bills

Salaried Employees

Although Australian law requires employers to provide their employees with sick leave benefits, the allotted days may not always be sufficient for a full recovery.

As a result, some employees feel pressured to return to work prematurely after exhausting their statutory sick leave, which can compromise their health and lead to more time off in the future.

Some people don’t even apply for sick leave if they know their company is restructuring, cutting costs, and firing employees.


The concept of “sick pay” doesn’t exist for self-employed individuals. Falling ill can be catastrophic if your business relies on your physical presence to generate income.

The absence of a safety net makes it crucial for self-employed people to carefully manage their health and finances.

Does it Help to Have Health Insurance?

While Medicare provides access to free hospital treatment and subsidises out-of-hospital medical care, you may still face out-of-pocket expenses if you need elective surgery.

Paying for private health insurance from companies such as Medibank, Australian Unity, HCF, and HBF can be helpful in the long run. However, private health insurance comes with excess fees. Additionally, not all insurance plans cover every incident, so it’s important to thoroughly read the fine print before committing to a policy.

The most common health insurance coverages include Lifetime Health Coverage, the Medicare Levy Surcharge, and the Private Health Insurance Rebate. Despite these options, there are occasions when insurance coverage falls short, leaving you with additional costs.

6 Solutions to Pay Medical Bills When You’re in Debt

Medical bills can be overwhelming, especially if you’re already struggling with debt. Here are 6 strategies to help you manage and pay off medical bills without worsening your financial situation.

1. Negotiate with Healthcare Providers

  • Keep an Eye Out for promotions: Sign-up deals for customers for new customers are always being offered. Check out the latest promos here.
  • Ask for Discounts: Many healthcare providers offer discounts for uninsured patients or those facing financial hardship. Don’t hesitate to ask for a reduction in your bill.
  • Set Up a Payment Plan: Arrange a manageable payment plan with your healthcare provider. This can spread the cost over several months, making it easier to handle.
  • Request Itemised Bills: Ensure all charges are accurate by asking for an itemised bill. Sometimes, errors or unnecessary charges can be identified and removed.
Negotiate with Healthcare Providers

2. Negotiate employment terms before signing a contract

  • Highlight Any Pre-Existing Health Issues: Disclose any pre-existing health conditions when negotiating employment terms. This can help ensure you receive the necessary support and accommodations. It can also be a crucial factor when considering health insurance options provided by the employer.
  • Plan carefully if you are Casual or Self-Employed: Without the safety net of sick leave or employer-provided health insurance, it’s vital to take the extra steps to plan for potential health issues. Consider purchasing individual health insurance, setting aside emergency funds, and exploring income protection insurance to safeguard against periods when you might be unable to work due to illness.

3. Explore Financial Assistance Programs

5. Consider Medical Credit Cards or Loans

  • Medical Credit Cards: Some providers offer credit cards specifically for medical expenses. These often come with interest-free periods for as long as 18 months. But be cautious of high interest rates if you can’t pay off the balance in time.
  • Personal Loans: If your credit is good, you might qualify for a personal loan with a lower interest rate than your current debt. Use this loan to pay off medical bills and consolidate existing debt.

6. Crowdfunding

7. Debt Consolidation

  • Consolidate Debt: Consider a debt consolidation loan if you have multiple debts, including medical bills. This combines all your debts into a single loan with one monthly payment, potentially at a lower interest rate.
Your Solution to pay medical bills when you're in debt

Your Solution

Medical bills are often out of our control, so being in debt at the same time can feel crippling. With the 6 tips above, we hope to have given some insight into some solutions to pay medical bills when you’re in debt.

Whether you take advantage of health insurance promos, get a medical loan or benefit from crowdfunding, there are options out there. You just have to know where to look.

If you would like to receive help in the form of a medical loan, complete an online application with Australian Lending Centre here.

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