Debt is one of the scariest realities of living in the 21st century. While there are good forms of debt such as student loans or mortgage payments, other loans like medical bill debt can get out of hand very quickly. Current studies show that about 79 million Americans have trouble paying for their medical bills, but unlike other forms of borrowing, some people have to incur this debt in order to stay alive!. In an attempt to help people remedy their situation, here are a few tips to help you survive medical debt.
1. Make sure the bills are accurate
Medical bills are complex and even major institutions like hospitals can make mistakes. It is important to closely check every bill to ensure that the amount owed is accurate. You should have a thorough understanding of how your insurance coverage operates. There is no reason to pay extra money because the medical provider charges you what insurance would naturally cover. Neither the provider nor the insurance company will care if you end up paying more than your fair share. This is why you should check the accuracy of every bill and contest any mistakes that are made.
Although hospitals don’t operate like vendors on the street, their prices aren’t as fixed as you may think. They have a complex pricing structure in which items aren’t always valued at the same price. For example, one patient may be charged a different price for the same bandages that cost others less. The exact prices are somewhat random. You should feel free to negotiate these prices and ask the billing clerk why this particular price was chosen. If the insurance company refuses to pay for a particular service or item, you should consider doing the same.
3. Learn about public aid options
There are many public organizations and programs that help lower-income families and individuals pay their medical bills. Medicaid is the most well-known and well-funded program. Anyone who is struggling to pay a medical bill should find out if they qualify for some of these benefits. As requirements vary between each state, you’ll have to contact the local Medicaid office to learn about their specific qualifications. Medicaid can help cover medical bills that you have recently incurred, but there is a limit to how far back this coverage will apply. It is important to join this program as soon as possible if you’re eligible.
4. Place the bills on a credit card
Nobody wants to put their medical bills on a credit card. This is potentially risky and could end up having negative consequences. When a person is struggling to pay their medical expenses however, this isn’t a bad option if you’re facing a real emergency. This method allows individuals to forgo paying their medical bills for a month or so. Placing your bills on a credit card also ensures that the bills don’t get sent to a collection agency right away.
5. File for bankruptcy
Many people are petrified of declaring bankruptcy. While this situation should be avoided at all costs, there are times when it is the only solution left. Contrary to popular belief, filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean that you lose all of your money and possessions. Instead, it is simply a legally-recognized declaration of not being able to pay your bills. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows an individual to pay off their medical debt over a three to five year period. Chapter 7 bankruptcy forgives a person’s medical debt altogether. There are different requirements for each form of bankruptcy.
Find out more about being debt free in our guide: All About Debt Relief
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The Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel helps people get out of debt. We offer free consultations to people of Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas, including Richmond Hill, Hinesville, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Tybee Island, Clyo, Ellabel, Midway, Ludowici, Springfield, Pembroke, Brooklet, and Garden City.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.