Nearly everyone will encounter some form of medical debt in their lifetimes. In best-case scenarios, health insurance covers the debt, and you’re able to move on healthier and in a better position than before your medical issue. However, medical debt is currently the number one cause of bankruptcy, so the chances that your medical bills will affect your household negatively are likely. We can’t predict when emergencies will occur, but we can attempt to handle medical debt the best way possible afterward.
Check Medical Bills
One step that is often overlooked is the examination of medical bills, which often include charges for services not received, or other errors. When you get your medical bills, make sure you look them over carefully. If there are charges that you don’t understand, or you don’t believe are yours, contact the provider and request a corrected statement. Also, double-check that the bill is actually yours. It is possible that patients are confused, and someone else’s charges can end up on your bill. Further, you should check to make sure you aren’t being charged for services that insurance has or will cover.
Make Payment Arrangements
Many hospitals and medical facilities will allow you to make payment arrangements according to your income. Whether you are dealing with the providers themselves, insurance companies, or collection agencies, you can ask to set up a payment arrangement. Make sure in doing so, that you only agree to terms you can meet. It doesn’t make sense to agree to payments you know you won’t be able to make, especially if those payments mean missing rent or not being able to buy food. It is, at least, worth a try to work something out.
Ask for Agreements and Correspondence in Writing
During negotiation and setting up these payment agreements, make sure you receive everything in writing. If you can, keep a record of all correspondence, statements, agreements, and paperwork regarding the services provided. This is especially important if your bills have reached collections and you are working with collections agencies. It is often recommended that you keep a notebook handy so you can log dates and times of conversations, especially if you are speaking with debt collectors who are required to follow certain guidelines when seeking payment.
Request Proof of Medical Debt
If your medical bills have gone to collections, you might not even have the original statements. You can request proof that the debt is actually yours. There is no reason to pay a debt and suffer the consequences of unpaid bills if there’s a possibility the debt doesn’t even belong to you.
If you need assistance handling medical debt, it’s best to consult a lawyer experienced in bankruptcy and debt management. The attorneys at 1-800-332-8735 (1-800-DEBT-RELIEF) are experienced in dealing with all types of debt as well as collection agencies and creditors.
How have you handled medical debt? Share with us in the comments.