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Swimming in medical debt?

Are you swimming in medical debt? If you do not have insurance and need any kind of medical treatment, this can quickly become the case. Even if you do have insurance, there are some services that are often billed separately, such as bills from the anesthesiologist, surgeon or a radiologist. You may receive these bills instead of your insurance company, and they may or may not be covered.

To start with, you should be sure all medical bills are yours and are correct. Many people find it easier to lay the bills aside assuming insurance is going to pay for them or to wait until a later date when they might have the money to pay them. A few months later, collection calls start. It is a good idea to try to handle the bills as they come in.

What can you do if you don't have money to pay your medical bills? Contact the provider and let them know. See if you can work out some kind of payment plan. It might be as little at $10 or $20 a month, but it will avoid collection actions against you. Also, be sure to review your bills carefully. If something is questionable, don't hesitate to ask about it, as billing errors are common. There may be duplicate bills, unauthorized charges or inflated costs.

You should also not use an emergency room for treatment unless it is a true emergency, or you have no choice. Emergency rooms are more expensive, and many insurance companies don't usually pay as much as they would to a regular treatment provider.

Keep all of your medical bills together. That way you can see if you are being double billed for anything. Keeping a list of your treatment and medical care helps also. If you have insurance, you should be aware of what is covered in your policy so you do not end up paying out of pocket for treatment that should be covered.

If your bills have already been turned over to collection agencies, and you are in way over your head, it is not too late. Consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can speak with a bankruptcy attorney to see if this is a good option for you. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can stop all collection calls immediately, and more than likely, your medical debt can be discharged giving you a fresh start.

Source: Wisconsin.gov, "Consumer Protection Fact Sheet - Medical Billing," accessed Jan. 05, 2018

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