Medical bills can be the most stressful part of managing finances on a budget. 26% of Americans deal with medical debt, and trying to figure out how to pay your bills while also suffering with an illness is a grave situation that nobody wants to be in. There is another side to medical bills that most folks overlook, however, and that side can provide you some hidden benefits when you struggle to eliminate debt.
1. No Interest
First: medical bills are perhaps the least punitive of the types of debt you can carry. Unlike big banks, which love to extend you credit at high interest rates, earning money every time you shop, medical bills very often can not / will not charge you interest. If you can't pay the entire bill by the end of the month, that balance won't compound and increase over time.
2. No Hard Due Date
Making a late payment (or missing one entirely) is not great. Credit card companies love charging you late fees and -- if you miss enough of them -- are quick to report you to credit agencies. Hits to your credit rating are a big deal: collecting them impacts your ability to get loans/credit in the future. This is key fact you shouldn't ignore, especially if larger, more overwhelming medical debt looms.
Medical bills often include a "pay by" date, but this is generally done as a standard accounting practice - they are a business, after all, and have provided a service to you. You'll often find, however, that you can contact the medical provider and pay that particular bill any time of the month.
If you've ever been caught trying to shift part of your budget around mid-month, a medical bill will have far more flexibility than a credit card with a due date. This leads to perhaps the most important hidden benefit of them all...
3. Payment Plans
Nearly every medical bill you come across will be willing to work with you when it comes time to pay the bill. In fact, in nearly every case, you should always contact the medical provider and ask to set up a payment plan. It is vitally important that you pay all your debts off, but thanks to the points mentioned above, you should be able to keep your monthly payments on medical bills lower than those you allocate to credit cards.