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How can I pay down my medical debts?

Medical bills can be sudden; you may have suffered a medical emergency or had a child who needed an operation. Whatever the cause, if you can't afford your medical bills, it's important to reach out before the debts get out of hand.

What can you do if you have medical bills that are just too expensive? Medical bills can be a shock when you receive them, and things like surgeries or emergency room visits can tally up to astronomical amounts. So how can you pay for these items when you really can't afford them?

Unpaid medical bills can damage your credit score, but there are ways to get the help you need to pay these bills. First, remember to check the bill for errors. Around 50 to 80 percent of medical bills do contain clerical errors, so it's worth looking over your bills. If you find an error, that error should be eliminated and your bill should be lowered.

Haggling is another possibility. Medical bills are negotiable at the doctor's office or hospital, but you can also haggle with your insurer. You'll need to make sure you talk to someone high enough in the corporate ladder to help you with your bills, though, or this tactic won't be as effective. You can request to talk to the management if you struggle finding who to speak to.

If you find a better price for your procedure online, consider asking the hospital if it will lower the charges for you. Remember to get a copy of any agreements in writing, because this is important if you get a secondary bill requesting a different amount later.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "How to Pay Medical Bills You Simply Can't Afford," Lacie Glover, accessed March 29, 2016

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