If you are drowning under thousands of dollars in medical debt, you are not alone. 137 million Americans have experienced financial hardship this year due to medical bills. Furthermore, medical bills account for almost 67% of bankruptcy claims in the United States. Whether it was one emergency that cost much more than you expected or a series of small illnesses and injuries that added up, the financial recovery can take much longer than your physical recovery.
Almost everyone agrees that the prices for healthcare in America are too high. Part of this is due to the collection rate. Many hospitals admit that the prices shown on invoices are not what they expect to collect from every patient. It does not seem fair that even the most careful financial planners are sometimes powerless in the face of enormous medical bills that do not reflect the real cost of their care. But as measures for making healthcare prices align more closely with the actual cost of the treatment take time, what can you do now do help manage your medical debt?
- Pay close attention to all bills and statements. With the convoluted billing system that most hospitals and insurance companies utilize, mistakes can and do happen. Look over your bills and verify that each charge is correct and correlates to a treatment that you actually received.
- Negotiate with the hospital or insurance agency. Some hospitals or insurance agencies have forgiveness programs. You may qualify for a lower rate or a payment plan that can take some of the immediate pressure off.
- Do not be afraid to file for bankruptcy. There is no shame in making the most appropriate financial choice that you can under the circumstances. Filing for bankruptcy can ease the burden of debts that you never meant to incur in the first place. For some people, bankruptcy is exactly the financial reset necessary to move forward again.
There is hope for your finances and your credit after medical debt holds you down. Your wealth should never determine your health. Consult with a lawyer to discuss your options.