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How To Keep Control Of Your Medical Debt

medical debtAre you one of the roughly 40 million Americans wallowing in medical debt? As the cost of healthcare continues to increase almost geometrically so do medical debts. In fact these now account for 52% of collection accounts on credit reports. This is far ahead of all other types of debt including even credit card debt.

While it’s possible to plan how much you will spend on a car or a house it’s virtually impossible to plan on how much you’ll spend on an illness or because of an injury. Of course, at the time you receive care the last thing on your mind is how much it will cost you. You might find it easy to haggle with a car salesman but are you going to haggle with a surgeon over the cost of repairing a heart valve are removing a tumor? You might not want to go this far in keeping control of your medical debt but here are ways you can at least keep it in check.

Carefully review all medical bills

If you review a bill and don’t recognize one of the providers, write down the date of service and then check to see if you had any kind of medical treatment that day. If you had a more complicated procedure, get an itemized bill from the provider so that you can see what the charge was for each service you received.

Keep all bills and documents organized

If you find one you need to dispute, write to the provider, and include a copy of all relevant documents. This could be records from your doctors’ offices or credit card statements. Make sure they are copies; do not send original documents.

Be sure your providers have your correct insurance information

If you don’t know exactly what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t, you need to review your policy to determine this. Also, make sure that your insurance information is accurate and up-to-date. If your providers don’t have your correct insurance information there could be a small mix-up leading to big bills for expenses that should have been covered by your insurance.

Act fast

When you receive a bill, you need to first verify whether your insurance company is paying for all or part of it. If you believe an error has been made and you don’t think you really owe the bill you need to act quickly to dispute it. If you don’t pay it or dispute it the bill can end up at a collection agency and this is something you definitely don’t want to happen.

Try negotiating

There is always the possibility that the hospital will negotiate with you. For example, you might be able to get the tab reduced if you pay the whole amount up front. You could also ask the hospital for the same rate that’s charged people with insurance. Or it’s possible you could get the hospital to let you pay off your debt in installments and with no interest charge. Some hospitals won’t agree to this but it never hurts to ask.

Forget using a credit card

It’s never a good idea to put a medical bill on a credit card as the card could have an interest as high as 19% or even higher. Plus, it will look just like a regular debt to other creditors. Instead, do what was suggested above and ask your medical provider for a payment plan with little or no interest.

get out of debtHire a debt settlement company

If you have a huge medical debt and the hospital or provider refuses to give you a payment plan you may want to contract with a debt settlement company. These companies have debt counselors that are experienced at negotiating medical debts and are almost always able to do better than you could yourself. In fact, debt settlement is the only way to get debts reduced short of filing for bankruptcy.

While a debt settlement company will charge you a fee, the money it saves you will more than offset it and you’ll still end up saving money. Also, if you have multiple medical debts and contract with a debt settlement company you will have consolidated your debts. This is because you will no longer be required to pay all your various providers. Instead, you will have a payment plan with a fixed monthly payment for a fixed amount of time. This will generally be from 24 to 48 months depending on the severity of your debt.

How debt settlement works

When you contract with a debt settlement company it will contact your providers (and any debt collectors) and notify them that it will be settling your debts. This should stop any harassing phone calls from your providers or from collectors.

To pay for your settlements, you will send the debt settlement company the money you would have used to pay your bills. Ethical debt settlement companies will deposit this money into a trust account that you control. When enough money has accumulated to settle off one or more of your debts, the settlement company will contact you and ask you to release the money. No reputable debt settlement company will use any of your money to cover its fee or to pay any other of its costs. The money will be used only to pay off your debts. At some point the debt settlement company will offer you a payment plan. Assuming you accept the plan you would then have just one payment to make a month.

Be aware that there is one down side to using a debt settlement company. Your creditors will treat your debt as paid in full but this is not how it will be reported to the three credit reporting bureaus. It will be reported as “settled,” “settlement” or “settled for less than full amount.” This will stay on your credit reports for seven years. It will also damage your credit score. However, the damage won’t be as severe as if you had declared bankruptcy.

The net/net

Medical debt can be staggering. We read recently of one person that thought he had planned a procedure where his insurance would cover everything. But then he was hit with a bill of $117,000 from a surgeon who had been called in at the last minute. If you do find yourself drowning in a pool of medical debt, take heart. As you have read in this article there are ways to control it and without having to take on a second or even a third mortgage.

10 Tips When Dealing With Medical Debt

man shackled by dollar signMedical debt can be a real problem for anyone. The rising healthcare costs can really pull a family into a financial crisis. There is nothing that you can do about it because you cannot ignore getting the medical attention when you need it the most. There are home remedies that you can do, that is true. But it does not apply to all types of sickness. This is especially true for children and the elderly. Both of these age brackets do not have robust physical bodies and you want to give them the medical attention that they need if they get sick.

While the need for healthcare should never be compromised, a lot of people are opting not to avail of it because they lack the finances to pay for the high fees involved. According to a report published on the, 43% of adults (80 million) are having problems getting the healthcare they need because of the costs. With 84 million Americans either uninsured or underinsured, a lot of them are not financially prepared to face this type of emergency.

The same site also mentioned how more than 75 million aged 19-64 years have availed of medical attention but are having problems paying their bills. 32 million are also reported to have a lower credit score because of their unpaid medical debt.

If you are one of these people who are burdened with a lot of medical bills, you need to start acting on it to keep it from totally ruining your life. Not only that, you have start making the right preparations that will help you avoid future medical cost problems.

10 ways you can deal with your medical bills

Learning how to deal with big medical bills is simple yet the implementation can be tough. Just start with knowing your options and you can take it from there. Here are 10 tips that we have for you when you are burdened with medical debt or you have just received your billing.

  1. Try not to ignore the bills. Trust us when we say that ignorance is not bliss – especially when it is debt that you are ignoring. In fact, the more you pretend that it is not there, the more it will grow. You will find yourself buried in debt and that can have serious effects on your financial standing. Regardless of your financial situation, you will find that there is a proper way of dealing with your medical bills.

  2. Check the bills thoroughly. When you receive your bills, make sure that you check every little detail. Sometimes, there are treatments and services listed that are not part of what you received. Even if you have health insurance and you got the bill stating that they paid for it, check the balance. Make sure you are not missing out on a participation fee that you are expected to shoulder.

  3. See which items in your bill should have been covered by the insurance. You also have to check and make sure that any item that is billed to you is really your obligation. Some of them may be intended for the insurance to cover. Review your policy and make sure that you are being billed correctly.

  4. Create a payment plan. When you have your bill, you need to create a payment plan immediately. Do not postpone it and make sure you incorporate it in your budget as soon as possible. That way, you can see if you have the funds to pay it off.

  5. Find a way to pay off the debt. In case your budget is not enough to incorporate the debt, you have to find a way to increase your income to pay it off. You can either earn more money or you can cut back on some of your expenses – at least until you have fully paid off your medical debt. If you can afford the payments, you can setup automatic payment transfers to make sure that you will not miss out on your monthly obligations.

  6. Do not disregard the medical bills of your kid. Even if the name on the bill is your child’s the form you accomplished in the hospital or health facility makes you responsible for it. You will ruin your credit score in the same way if you ignore this debt.

  7. Search for other options that will help you pay off your debt. If you have low income, you may qualify for Medicaid. If you are a senior, you can qualify for Medicare. Do not ignore these options because they can help you avoid medical debt.

  8. Use your credit card to avoid having your debt sent to the collections agency. In case you really are short in cash, just use your credit card. Not everyone will suggest this but if you know that you will be receiving money in the next few weeks, you can rely on your card for emergencies. Just make sure that you will pay it back.

  9. Research your debt relief options to help with medical debt. If your funds are really not enough to pay for your medical bills, you have to get debt relief help. You have a lot of options before you. Credit counseling and debt management can help you restructure your debts and lower your monthly payments. Debt consolidation loan can consolidate your payments under one lona. Debt settlement is a great way to get your medical debts reduced. Know these options and see which of them will suit your financial capabilities.

  10. Opt for bankruptcy. If you know that you really do not have the money to pay off your dues, you can opt to file for bankruptcy instead. Study from revealed that in 2013, 1.7 million Americans are bound to declare bankruptcy because of their inability to meet their medical debt obligations. The same study also found out that 56 million Americans below the age of 65 years are struggling to pay off their medical debt. If you have no other choice, you have to simply declare bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy will discharge any debt that cannot be paid off by your liquidated assets (if any). If you are filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will go through a court-ordered repayment plan.

How to prepare for the rising health care cost to avoid debt

A medical debt infographic published by National Debt Relief showed that 33% of consumers did not use or delayed their prescription because of lack of funds. 39% did not even go to a doctor for fear of medical bills. 36% opted out of a medical treatment because they know they cannot afford it. You do not want to be part of this statistic. You want to be able to spend for your health care costs and that of your family – especially your children.

Here are some tips for you to prepare for health care and not end up in medical debt.

  • Budget for it. Put aside a sum of money every month for your emergency fund.

  • Look for a comprehensive health insurance. You can browse the for information about your different options.

  • Check with your employer for a health coverage. They may have one that you do not know of.

  • Understand any genetic illness that runs in the family and find the appropriate organization that is known to give financial aid for it. You can approach your local government, church or charities. That way, you know where to go to when it strikes.

Of course, the best way to really prevent medical debt is to simply take care of your health. Eat nutritious meals, sleep well and exercise daily. That is the only way you can keep healthy the natural way.

Can Medicare Really Help Seniors Avoid Medical Debt

man tripping on insurance documentsOne of the fears of retiring individuals is how they will ensure that their funds will outlast them. Given their age and physical condition, they are unable to earn money to help them finance their needs. This puts them at a risky situation.

Of all the expenses that retirees are faced with, the most important tip to keep their retirement fund from retiring is to make sure that their health care costs are covered. Otherwise, they can put themselves in danger of medical debt.

The thing about getting old is the deterioration of your physical body. Even those who have the most robust body when they were young will eventually have their strength fade away. This is a fact regardless of your lifestyle. Among the things that you need to prepare for in retirement, is your ability to pay for these costs. They will come. That is certain for everyone.

Health care costs endanger retirees to be in debt

But while there is a need to prepare for health care costs, we are sometimes taken off guard by how expensive it is to get medical treatment. This is how a lot of us end up in medical debt. conducted a survey back un June 2013 and it showed the following statistics:

  • An estimate of 56 million Americans (64 years old and below) is expected to struggle in paying off their medical bills. 35M will be contacted by collection agencies, 17M will have a lower credit rating and 15M will use up their savings to try and stay out of medical debt.

  • 10 million citizens below 65 years old will not be able to afford paying for basic necessities because of health care expenses.

  • 1.7 million will declare bankruptcy because of unpaid medical expenses.

If this true for the younger ones, how more perilous will it be for retirees. Those within the ages 19 to 64 years (the main respondents of the NerdWallet study), are all still within the working age. The chances of them being able to earn income to pay off what they owe puts them in a better position than their elders.

The same study also noted that the main reason why medical debt is more likely to happen is because of the rising cost of health care. While some people should be responsible enough to save up for this, the high cost can sometimes make it inadequate. This is what is really causing the indebtedness of a lot of people. In some cases, consumers are opting out of getting medical treatment or following on their medical doses because it is just too expensive for them.

In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reported that health spending in the country last 2013 was estimated at $2.9 trillion. While the growth compared to the $2.8 trillion in 2012 is relatively small, the amount in itself is staggering. The report published on showed that the average spending in 2011 was $8,680 per individual. The report believes that this will go higher once the actual 2013 figures come in.

So what are the chances of our elders to avoid medical debt when health care costs continue to rise? How can they hope to give themselves the right treatment as their bodies age?

Facts about Medicare that can help avoid health care debt

This is where Medicare actually steps in to provide help with medical bills. One of the things that you need to accomplish before you retire is to understand how this government program can benefit you once you reach retirement. In most cases, people are scared that the coverage of this program will not live up to the health care benefits that you got through your employer.

Well there is only one way to find out and that is what this article will try to help you with.

So how does Medicare help seniors and will it keep them from medical debt? Here are important facts that you need to know about it.

  • While it is run by the federal government, the doctors, hospitals and laboratories are mostly private. They only enter into Medicare contracts and that is how 75% of your bill with them gets paid by the government. If your family doctor has a contract with Medicare, then you are free to continue consulting with them while letting the government pick up most of your tab.

  • Medicare, is not really free. It is, in essence, still a health insurance that you have to pay for on a monthly basis – just like the health insurance provided by employers. Unless you are eligible to get low-income assistance from the state, then this is something that will still go out of your pocket. Visit to know more about the costs that you need to pay off.

  • The great thing about Medicare is you get a lot of options. You have the traditional plans that allow you to go to any doctor in the country or state. There is also the various Medicare Advantage health plans that are oftentimes similar to private health insurances. Sometimes, you can choose from 50 health plan options. This makes it ideal to have a plan that will suit your personal health needs. For instance, Part A means you are covered for hospital stays, home services and hospice care. Part B covers the professional fee of the physician, outpatient expenses and any medical equipment that you will have to pay off. You can combine these and end up with the Traditional Medicare or just get one for your use. Part C, or more commonly known as the Medicare Advantage combines Part A, B and in most cases, D. Part D covers payments for prescription drugs. There is also the Medigap that covers the out-of-pocket expenses of Traditional Medicare.

  • Medicare will not charge higher premiums for existing ailments – which means you can choose to get covered for almost any health related concern.

  • There is a requirement to work long enough to be able to qualify for this health insurance. Also, you cannot avail of this when you decide to retire early. It has to be when you reach the age of 65. That means you may have to deal with a couple of years without health coverage – unless you go for a private insurance plan.

In essence, Medicare is a monthly premium that you have to pay off so you can prepare for the health expenses that you will have in the future. It is a good idea to get this so you can avoid medical debt. Any out of pocket expenses will not be as damaging as it should be if you opted out of this government program.

How to finance your medical expenses and avoid credit

Getting ready for retirement requires you to go through a lot of tasks and it all begins with knowing. If you know that your family has a history of hereditary ailments, you may want to make sure that you are prepared for this. Apart from learning about Medicare, here are a couple of tips that can help you deal with the unexpected medical costs that can put you in debt.

  • Know your other options. Apart from Medicare, if you know that you will need more coverage, research on the right health insurance that can give you what you need. In most cases though, Medicare can supply what you generally need.

  • Get your dietary intake straightened out. Prevention is better than cure and most health related problems can be dealt with by eating right. If your family has a history of diabetes, then ease off the sweets. If you have a history of heart ailments, then stay away from food that will endanger your heart.

  • Live a healthy lifestyle. Lastly, make it a point to take care of your body. Exercise, sleep well and prepare yourself for old age. You only feel weak when you stop doing something.

How Medical Debts Will Affect Your Credit Score

Woman stressing over debtsIf an avalanche of medical bills has hit you, we can empathize. As you may have read, healthcare costs continue to rise dramatically and with no end in sight. It’s possible that Obamacare will help slow down the increase but it may be several years before we know this one way or another. In the meantime if you’ve been slammed by medical bills, you may be wondering the effect it will have on your credit report.

No affect at all

If there’s any good news to being hit by big medical bills it’s that it won’t have any effect on your credit score or credit report. Healthcare providers usually don’t report their uncollected bills to credit bureaus. That’s the good news. The bad news is that these debts are still on their books. As a result, the financial officers in hospitals sometimes clean things up by selling those debts to collection companies. The really bad news is that these professional collectors will not only hound you indefinitely, they will report your debts to the credit bureaus. Plus, they have a knack for calling you just before you apply for a mortgage or some other kind of loan or when you’ve applied for a job – so you know that your credit report will be reviewed.

Have you seen your credit report recently?

The only sure way you can know what’s happened with those medical debts is to check your credit report. You actually have three credit reports, one each from the three credit-reporting bureaus – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. They are required by law to give you a copy of your credit report free once a year. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of contacting each of the credit reporting bureaus for your credit report, you can go to the website and get all three of them simultaneously. Again, this will be free – at least once a year.

What to look for

When you get your credit reports you should review them carefully looking for the following negative items.

  • Charge-offs
  • Debt collections
  • Bankruptcies
  • Foreclosures
  • Tax liens
  • Lawsuits or judgments

If you find one or more of these items you can bet that it’s having a negative effect on your credit score. This is assuming that they are not errors. If you find negative items that you believe are not yours, it’s critical that you dispute them. All three of the credit-reporting bureaus have online forms where you can dispute items. You will need to have documentation backing up your claim. The credit bureau is then required by law to contact the company that supplied the information and ask it to be validated. If that company is unable to validate the debt or if it doesn’t respond to the credit bureau within 30 days, the bureau must remove the item from your file. As you might imagine, this could have a very positive effect on your credit score.

The ultimate answer

Of course, the ultimate answer to medical bills is to pay them. This will not only keep them from going to collection but do you really want to owe money to a provider that you may need again in the future? Let’s suppose that you owe $1500 for a colonoscopy. You’ll probably need another one in five years. Do you want to go back to that gastroenterologist owing him or her $1500?

Seven long years

Did you know that negative information will stay in your credit report for seven years from the time of your delinquency? But that’s not the important fact. The important one is that if you make a payment on an old debt, it could restart the clock. In other words, it could have been five years since that debt was sent to collection but if you make a payment on it, you could be liable for more years.

What  you need to do

There are several things you should do if you’re faced with a mountain of medical debts.

Check the statute of limitations in your state. Every state has a statute of limitations on debts. This can be as few as five years or as many as 10. In any event, you should check with your state’s attorney general’s office to see what is the statute of limitations where you live. If you have some really old medical bills, the statute of limitations may have expired so that a collection agency could no longer sue you.
Try to negotiate a settlement – if the statute of limitations has not passed, you should contact the hospital, clinic or doctor that provided your services and try to negotiate a settlement. Your medical provider will probably be very interested in settling with you if the statute of limitations has passed.
Get any agreement in writing. If you are able to negotiate a settlement, be sure you get everything in writing before you make any payments.
Keep your proof of payment and settlement agreement just in case a debt collector contacts you.

Your other optionsBankruptcy

If you can’t pay those medical bills and the provider won’t settle with you, you do have some options. For example, you could pay off the debt with a credit card(s), which would allow you spread out your payments over a number of years. Second, you might be able to find a foundation that would give you a grant to pay off those bills. Finally, you could declare bankruptcy, which unfortunately is what many American’s have done. In fact, medical bills are now the leading cause of bankruptcies here in the U.S. If you’re facing such a mountain of medical bills that bankruptcy seems like it might be a good option, watch this video.

What You Need To Know About Medical Credit Cards

If you’ve been hit by a huge out-of-pocket medical bill, you might be tempted to sign up for a medical credit card. Companies such as Wells Fargo, Citigroup, GE capital and J.P. Morgan Chase offer these cards. They provide a credit line specifically to cover medical procedures and treatments for your entire family – including pets. These cards are becoming more and more popular due mostly to rising healthcare costs. However, it’s important to understand that one of these cards will not reduce your debt. It would only serve to increase it. One member of a Boston-based consumer advocacy group pointed out that the irony that “these cars are probably best suited to people who already have financial resources.”Stethoscope strangling money as in medical bills

How these cards work

The way medical credit cards work is similar to other credit cards. You take out a loan to pay for your treatment and then pay the money back over time. These cards can be used for most medical care, dental visits, vision care, cosmetic treatments and surgeries, veterinary care and hearing care. Most people who sign up for one of these cards do so at the office of their healthcare provider. The card may come with 0% interest for as long as you pay each new charge within a certain time, which are usually six to 24 months. Some medical credit cards have extended payment plans for up to 60 months at a fixed interest rate.

The devil is in the fine print

Before you sign up for one of these cards make sure you read the fine print. If you’re facing a big medical or dental bill, a card where you pay no interest can seem like a terrific option. But most require that you make a minimum monthly payment and if that payment is late, your interest rate could increase drastically.

To avoid interest charges

If you make your monthly payments on time and pay off each of your charges within the allowed time period, you can avoid having to pay any interest. However, if you carry your balance past the promotional period, you could be subject to high interest rates of 24% to 30% of the original purchase amount and these rates could be retroactive to the date of your purchase.

Be aware of your options

Fortunately, there are options available that could help you pay for that medical or dental procedure and without the danger of ending up with a 30% interest rate. One of the best is the no-interest payment plans offered by many healthcare providers. Most of these providers will even discount your bill if you pay cash. In fact, I have seen medical bills slashed by hundreds of dollars because the patient paid in cash.

If your medical credit card debt spirals out of control

Medical credit card debts can spiral out of control just like any credit card debts. If this happens to you, you would be well advised to look at some alternatives for getting it under control. Many families have found help through consumer credit counseling. Others have been able to use the equity in their homes to obtain debt consolidation loans and used the money to pay off their medical credit card and other debts. A third way to manage those debts is through debt settlement. It’s a way to consolidate debts without having to borrow more money. In fact, debt settlement can actually be used to reduce debts.

How debt settlement works

Debt settlement is sometimes called debt negotiation. This is because it requires you to negotiate with your creditors to get your balances reduced. You’ll need to make no payments on any of your unsecured debts for probably six months before you contact your creditors and offer to settle with them. Your settlement offers would typically be 40% or 50% less than you owe. Many lenders will settle if you can convince them that it’s in their best interests. Of course, you would need to have the cash available to pay your settlements. But if you do have the money, debt settlement can be an excellent way to pay off those medical credit card bills and any other debts within a reasonable amount of time.

“What Happens If I Apply For Bankruptcy?”

pen, gavel and petition to file for bankruptcyWhile this is a legitimate question, a better question would be to first ask yourself, “should I file for bankruptcy”? Most people choose what’s called a chapter 7 bankruptcy or liquidation bankruptcy. This will discharge virtually all your unsecured debts but comes with a high price tag.

What a bankruptcy costs

I have seen attorneys advertising bankruptcies for less than $500. However, it’s important to remember the old adage that “you get what your pay for”. In other words, a $500 bankruptcy may not get you the same attention or service as one costing $1,000.

How long does a bankruptcy take?

It generally takes from six to 12 months to get through a bankruptcy, depending on where you live.

DIY bankruptcy

If you don’t own a real estate, you could probably handle the bankruptcy yourself. If you do have a house, you will need an attorney. He or she will file with the bankruptcy court in your district..

Your assets and debts

Shortly after you file for bankruptcy, you will be required to submit a report listing all of your assets and debts. The bankruptcy judge or trustee will review all this information and give it a “means” test to make sure you qualify for a chapter 7. If you fail this test, your bankruptcy will be kicked up to a Chapter 13, which is something entirely different.

Forced credit counseling

You will also be required to take an approved credit-counseling course before you complete the bankruptcy. With a chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will also be required to meet with your creditors. However, very few lenders will actually send representatives to that meeting, so it will probably be just you, your attorney and the bankruptcy judge or trustee.

The debts that will be discharged

A chapter 7 bankruptcy will only discharge unsecured debts and not even all of them. For example, you cannot discharge child or alimony debts, past-due taxes, debts created through fraud and student loan debts. It will discharge credit card debts, medical loans, personal loans and lines of credit. It will also not discharge secured debts such as your mortgage and auto loans.

What you can keep

You may remember from an earlier paragraph that a chapter 7 bankruptcy is called a liquidation bankruptcy as its purpose is to liquidate your assets to pay your creditors. However, you are allowed to keep certain of your assets, including the equity in your house (up to a certain limit), your motor vehicles (again up to a specified limit), your household goods and furnishings, your wedding ring, jewelry (probably up to $500 worth) and the tools of your trade.

The effects of a chapter 7 bankruptcy

As I mentioned in an earlier paragraph, a chapter 7 bankruptcy does come with a high price tag. It will reduce your credit score by an estimated 100 points so you will have a hard time getting any new credit for two to three years. A bankruptcy stays in your credit files for either or seven or 10 years (depending on the individual credit reporting bureau). Plus it’s a public record that will stay with you forever. Any time anyone pulls your public record it will see that you had a bankruptcy. This could be anyone from the federal government to a prospective employer or even a prospective spouse, This means it would pay to consider the issue very carefully before you file for bankruptcy as it will definitely have long-term consequences.

Do You Need Help With Medical Debt Relief?

Stethoscope on pile of moneyIf you’re struggling to pay off big medical debts, I can certainly empathize. I had a minor procedure done to one of my hands two weeks ago. The bill arrived yesterday and the cost was $5,000. Fortunately, I have insurance that will cover either all or most of that bill but I can just imagine how terrible it would be if you had to pay a medical expense such as this out of your pocket.

Carefully review all your statements

The first thing you need to do is to carefully review any statements you get from your healthcare providers. Hospitals and clinics are required to handle a huge amount of information about every patient and when there is a huge amount of information involved, mistakes can be made. In fact, I have seen estimates that anywhere from 30% to 80% of all medical bills contain errors. You want to make sure all of your charges are legitimate. If you do find errors, call your provider and ask it to make corrections on your bill and then resubmit it to you or your insurance company.

The third player

Medical debt is more complicated than conventional debt if there is a health insurance company involved. When this is the case, you need to know your limits, co-insurance, co-pays or anything else in your policy that could affect how much the insurance company will pay versus your share of the costs. You may not even know how much you actually owe until several months after your treatment and your insurance company has paid its share of the bill.

Negotiate medical debt relief

Healthcare providers used to be fairly lenient in terms of how they treated medical debts. However, many of them have become more like businesses and are much tougher on debt collection. If you find yourself on the wrong side of a huge bill, the first thing you might do to get some medical debt relief is to contact your provider to see if you can’t negotiate a reduction in what you owe. If you could promise an immediate lump sum payment, you might be able to get that bill reduced substantially.

Request a payment plan

If you are unable to negotiate a settlement with a healthcare provider, you might be able to arrange a payment plan. Suppose that you owed $10,000. Your hospital or clinic might be willing to let you pay it off over a two-year period at around $416 a month. You might also be able to get it to waive any interest charges to help you get out of debt quicker.

Look for a foundation

If you have a rare or chronic disease there may be a foundation or federal assistance program that would help with your medical bills. How much assistance you might receive will depend on factors such as your age, health condition and insurance status. But it is possible that a foundation would help with co-pays, co-insurance, the cost of your drugs and even more. However, be aware that there are usually funding timelines so it is sometimes better to look for help early in the calendar year.

Put your medical debt on a credit card

If you have a credit card with a low interest rate, you might consider putting your medical debt on it. This would allow you to spread that debt over a period of time. And it would become more “flexible,” in that you wouldn’t have a fixed payment to make each month. Instead, you could pay just the minimum required by your credit card or you could heavy up on your payments to get out of debt faster.

Let the pros do it

Many families have found that the best help for medical debt relief is to let National Debt Relief settle those medical debts for them. Our trained debt counselors can negotiate with your healthcare providers to get your balances reduced so you could become debt free in 24 to 48 months. We charge no upfront fees. In fact, you pay us nothing until we have successfully settled your debts and provided you with an affordable payment plan.

How To Deal With Big Medical Bills

Stethoscope strangling money as in medical billsWhether we like to admit it or not, none of us is invincible. We can become sick or have an accident and end up in the hospital for days or even weeks. If we’re lucky we have health insurance that covers all or at least most of the expenses we rack up. And these can be huge. I’ve heard of hospital bills that totaled $100,000 or even more. I had a small procedure done recently to remove a basal cell carcinoma from my nose that took about an hour and cost $700.

More complicated

Big medical bills can be even more complicated when there is an insurance company involved. If you received a statement recently from a hospital or clinic, you’ll know exactly what I mean. There were probably categories such as Amount Billed, Amount Covered, Patient’s Responsibility and so forth. In fact, these invoices can be so complicated that you almost need a Captain Midnight Decoder Ring to figure out what you really owe.

Mistakes can be made

Hospitals, clinics and even doctors are required to generate massive amounts of paperwork these days. And any time there is a massive amount of paperwork, there is a massive possibility that mistakes were made. Whatever you receive a medical bill, the first thing you need to do is sit down and review it to make sure you’re being charged for the services you actually received. You can probably ignore the small stuff as you may or may not remember that you were given two aspirin at 4:00AM one day, but watch out for charges such as a PET scan you don’t remember.

Make sure you understand your policy

If you have health insurance, the second thing you need to do is to make sure you understand your policy. It could include co-pays and annual and lifetime limitations that might seriously affect how much of the bill your insurance actually covers. If you have questions about your coverage or the bill itself, take it and your policy to your HR department or to the insurance company itself and ask for a complete explanation.

Medical bills can be negotiated

It’s always possible to negotiate medical bills especially if you can pay cash to settle them. I‘ve heard stories of procedures that had been billed at $5,000 but were settled for $200. In the event you can’t settle out the bill, you should at least be able to negotiate a payment plan so you wouldn’t have to pay it off all at once. If you act in good faith, most hospitals and clinics will work with you to develop an affordable plan and might not even charge interest.

Use a credit card

If you can’t negotiate a payment plan with the hospital or clinic, you might be able to put the bill on a credit card. If so, you could chop it into bite sized payments and spread them out over several years. You would have to pay interest on the debt but this still might be better than trying to pay it off all at once or declaring bankruptcy.

Let us settle the debt for you

Another alternative for paying off a big medical bill is to let us negotiate a settlement for you. Our debt counselors are very experienced at debt settlements and usually save our clients thousands of dollars. We can settle medical bills and other unsecured debts such as credit card debts. We charge no upfront fees so you pay nothing until we can settle all your debts and you approve a payment plan.

Help With Medical Bills

If you haven’t received any medical bills recently, you may not be intimately familiar with what has happened in healthcare costs. You might have read about the high cost of healthcare or seen news stories about it but it’s really hard to appreciate what even a simple procedure can cost until you have one and see a bill.

Here’s an example. We have a friend who recently had a small bit of plastic surgery done to the bridge of his nose to remove what’s called a basal cell carcinoma. These carcinomas are not dangerous but can lead to dis-figuration. He was in a surgical suite for about 45 minutes while the surgeon cut off the carcinoma and then had it tested to make sure that he had removed all the cancer cells.

Do you want to know what this medical procedure cost?

The total charge was in excess of $900.

Fortunately, my friend had insurance that paid the bill. But just think of how he would’ve felt if he had to pay the $900 out-of-pocket. Now, think what kind of medical bills you might see if you were uninsured and had an operation even for something as simple as an appendectomy.

Help with medical bills

If you find yourself faced with a huge stack of medical bills, there is help available. Many Americans who have found themselves in this position pay these bills with a debt consolidation loan. Banks and credit unions are usually a good source for this type of loan. However, it does come with a downside. For one thing, you will most likely have to “secure” that loan by putting up some kind of asset as collateral. Unless you happen to own a boat or second home where you have enough equity to secure the loan, you will most likely have to put up your house as collateral. This puts it at risk for foreclosure because if you fail to make your loan payments, your lender can force you to sell it.

The most drastic solution

Of course, the most drastic way to get help with medical bill debt is to declare bankruptcy. More and more bankruptcies are being filed every day due to bankruptcy. In fact, the most recent statistics I saw was that 9000 Americans file for bankruptcy every day. The most favored form of bankruptcy is Chapter 7. Most people choose this because it allows them to keep some of their assets. For example, a Chapter 7 lets you keep up to $60,000 of equity in your home and $6000 worth of equity in your automobile. However, the bankruptcy judge or referee can order you to sell other of your assets to help pay creditors.. In other words, you could very well kiss that fishing boat or camping trailer goodbye. Plus, having a bankruptcy stays on your record and can have a negative affect on your credit score for as many as 10 years.

Consumer credit counseling

A third way to get help with medical bills is with consumer credit counseling. You may have seen ads on television for one of these agencies. The best ones are nonprofits and don’t charge for their services. They can afford to do this because they are financially bankrolled by credit providing companies (major credit card banks such as Bank of America, Chase, Capital One, Citibank) as it is in their best interest to help you with your debt rather than see you file for bankruptcy. While these credit-counseling agencies cannot get your debt lowered, they can get your interest reduced so that you will have lower monthly payments.

If you have credit card debt on top of those medical bills, you can also get help with it through a debt relief company such as National Debt Relief. It has a good history of helping its customers cut their credit card bills in half or better. It charges no upfront fees and you can get a free debt analysis with no obligation – and what’s better than free? Get help with your medical bills now.

Texas Medical Health Insurance, Existence And Debt

Even a small delay in getting medical information to where it needs to be can cost the life of a patient. Myra Davis, the Vice President of Information Services at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) found it was very difficult to create a highly effective communications system. Since TCH understood the importance of effective communications, it turned to the popular Apple iPhone.

One at every shift change

There is a station with a fully charged Apple iPhone at every nurse’s station. Nurses pick one up at every shift change. They’re required to update their work status as to whether they are busy or available. If they need to see a doctor regarding a patient’s condition, all they have to do is send a text. The Apple iPhones even have built-in alarm management systems that instantly prioritize and provide critical care alerts.

Not flooded with alerts

Davis has developed rules so that nurses are not flooded with alerts as this can desensitize them and result in reduced effectiveness. The orders have to be aligned with the seriousness of the situation and the type of healthcare required. In other words, nurses only receive alerts that apply to them and that are in line with the severity of the patient’s condition. Davis hopes that this new program will lead to faster and more effective communication to help patients get better healthcare.

Why debt is like healthcare

In healthcare, poor communications can cause a patient to become worse or even die. Healthcare insurance is like that in that if you don’t recognize the limits of Texas medical health insurance, you could end up in major medical debt.

In the state of Texas, medical insurance plans include an elaborate combination of co-insurance, co-obligations, deductibles and sometimes multiple exclusions and limits. If you do not understand your coverage, your Texas medical health insurance plan could leave you with a big amount of unforeseen debt.

Take deductibles

As you probably know, an insurance deductible is the amount of money that you will have to pay before your healthcare insurance policy kicks in. This is generally an annual amount that you need to spend for healthcare in any given year before you start having coverage. This year, if you live in a state that did not get a waiver permitting it to delay having to meet federal health care reform standards, you could purchase preventive healthcare. This means you can get free protection before your deductible kicks in so long as you use a provider within the health plan’s network.

Beyond maintenance

Of course, once you need services beyond basic maintenance you will still have to satisfy your plan’s deductible before you have coverage. This can mean real trouble if you do not understand how the deductible is applied. One family thought its plan had a $5000 deductible. However, it wound up having to have four incidences before they satisfied their plan’s deductible as it was based on per person and not per year.

More standardized coverage

It is expected that in 2014, when the Texas Medical Health Insurance Exchange takes effect, health care insurance plans will become more standardized so it will be easier to evaluate policies. You will still have to pay for exclusions and there will be limits on your benefits. However, before 2014, it would be smart to get a second opinion on any health insurance policy even if it seems good at first glance. Independent medical health insurance brokers can be more helpful in this area than company agents because they can compare guidelines from different Texas health insurance providers. It’s a good idea to search online to find one or more of these independent brokers to help you evaluate your coverage options, their costs, deductibles, co-pays and so on.

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