Basic Steps in Facing Medical Debt

 

When sickness or injury affects you or a loved one, medical debt is the last thing you want to think about, however it will be an issue you have to confront.  In modern day America, health care is one of the most expensive issues everyone will likely interact with at some point.  This is a serious issue and the ramifications of not being on top of debt can result in bankruptcy.  Learning how to handle medical debt is crucial knowledge that everyone can benefit from.

 

Understand Your Bill

 

When you see the total amount you owe, anxiety can take over.  This is not the end of the issue.  Request an itemized bill to understand where and why you were billed.  It is common that bills contain errors and there are mistakes that can easily be disputed, so the total will be reduced.  There are many inconsistencies out there, but a few of the major ones are: duplicate billing, services you did not receive, and incorrect patient information.  This process does not take long to go through, and pays off in the end.

 

Budgeting

 

This is a basic concept that most people have a decent grasp of: take your monthly income, pay what is necessary, then use what’s left for entertainment and saving.   However, including your medical bills in this will make this stressful burden easier to take on.  There is an instant feeling of relief when you see a manageable fraction that you will pay instead of the overwhelming total.  To figure out how much a month you would pay, an open line of communication needs to be established with your healthcare provider.

 

Communication

 

In the event you can’t pay the total all at once, make it clear to your insurance provider and they will understand your situation.  Insurance companies understand that health care is not cheap.  Be clear early on that you need to set up a payment plan, and they will work with you to ensure that you have a budget where you will not fall behind.  If you do not feel confident in starting the conversation, or maintaining it, an attorney can delegate the process for you.

 

Lawyer Up

 

In the situation that your debt is a substantial amount, or you feel that you were treated unfairly, an attorney is a logical course of action.  Medical debt can pile up for a number of reasons, and the common factor in all of them is that the medical issue you or a loved one went through was major.  Whether it is a chronic disease or a terrible accident, you already have enough stress to deal with.

 

An attorney can alleviate that stress by working as the medium between you and the insurance company and/or healthcare provider to set up a plan.  Being a mediator is a typical responsibility for an attorney, and your attorney will put you first and fight on your behalf. Be skeptical of “patient advocates” that are on the payroll of the healthcare provider.  Are they truly working in your best interests?

 

Medical bills are almost a guarantee when living in America, but that doesn’t mean they need to control your life.  If you are struggling to pay your bills, take the time to make a plan of action and go forth.  Healthcare attorneys are always available to help and with open and clear communication you will get through the stress of medical debt with a clear plan of attack.

 

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