Chronic pain has many obvious drawbacks, but it also has many hidden consequences. We know that chronic pain can be costly to treat, but new research suggests that it can have a severe impact on your buying power or your ability to secure credit.
According to a new study published in the National Pain Report, a survey of 840 chronic pain sufferers found that a whopping 63 percent were unable to secure credit. As you might have guessed, this has far-reaching consequences for pain sufferers.
Chronic Pain and Your Credit
Researchers said that there were a number of different reasons why chronic pain sufferers had difficulty securing credit. Some of the most common challenges individuals with chronic pain run into credit-wise include:
- Difficulty obtaining credit because chronic pain makes it hard or impossible for them to maintain employment.
- High interest on credit cards or loans that they are able to secure.
- Difficulty getting a cell phone contract.
- Inability to get approved for a home loan or apartment rental.
- Inability to secure utilities, like electricity, propane or gas.
- Difficulty getting automobile or life insurance, and when they do, rates are often very high.
“The inability to secure credit brings a long list of challenges, particularly for those who also suffer with medical conditions, like pain,” said Jim Shanahan, President and CEO of Prepaidian, Inc, a company who specializes in Prepaid debit cards that are intended to provide buying power for people who are unable to secure credit. “You may be unable to get a checking account, or pay exorbitant fees on those accounts, in addition to trying to manage medical bills.”
How To Improve Your Credit While Dealing With Chronic Pain
Improving your credit score while you deal with chronic pain isn’t always easy, but there are things you can do to improve it bit by bit. For example, always try to make your payments on time, even if it’s just the minimum amount. Paying on time helps to improve your credit score. Secondly, don’t be in a rush to close your accounts. Closing accounts, even ones you don’t use, negatively impacts your credit score because it limits your buying power. If you absolutely have to close out an account, see if you can increase your line of credit on a different account. Even if you don’t plan to spend that much, your credit score improves when you have more potential buying power at your disposal.
Secondly, try to settle up past due accounts. Odds are if you’re willing to pay at least a portion of the bill, the credit card company will be willing to erase the debt, because getting some money is better than getting nothing. You can call in and see if they’ll waive late fees or some interest charges, because it never hurts to ask, and if waiving a fee gets the credit card company their money, oftentimes they’ll be willing to compromise. It never hurts to ask.
Lastly, if medical bills from chronic pain are stacking up, try to get on a payment plan with your health center or insurance company. Making regular payments and working towards a zero balance will do wonders for your credit score. Explain your situation, and people may be more willing to help.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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