As we've previously discussed in this blog, medical bills are a leading cause of bankruptcy in the Atlanta area. Often, people incur huge medical expenses when they suffer illnesses or injuries while they are uninsured. However, one does not have to be without medical insurance to end up facing unmanageable medical debt. Sky-high deductibles, mounting premiums and sudden injuries or health troubles can, and often do, result in thousands of dollars of debt.
While bankruptcy protection may be one way to rid oneself of such debt, there may also be other options available to those who struggle to pay their medical bills.
The first step to fight medical debt is to avoid incurring it. Consumers should price out their planned medical expenses by researching hospitals and clinics online, and even calling to ask for estimates. Those who have insurance can also study their policies to ensure they take advantage of the coverage by going to certain care providers. For those who cannot afford the estimated rates, consider asking the hospital or medical office if they can provide a lower rate. If they agree, get this in writing.
Negotiating lower bills may be possible for those who have already incurred medical debt as well. Health care providers may agree to take a lower lump sum payment than what is owed, or they may agree to put together an affordable payment plan. Again, if an agreement is negotiated, be sure to get this in writing.
When neither planning for affordable care or negotiating bills is possible, it may be time to talk to a legal debt relief professional about one's options. One viable option may be Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which allows consumers to wipe away most debts and begin again with a clean slate.
Source: New York Daily News, "How to negotiate hospital bills and avoid medical bankruptcy," Christina LaMontagne, Aug. 20, 2013