Many people think that bankruptcy can only be a result of irresponsible spending, but that is a myth. Sure, we all make bad financial decisions from time to time and sometimes this can come back to haunt a person, but the leading cause of bankruptcy isn't reckless spending. It's medical debt.
In fact, a recent report found that one-third of cancer survivors suffer financial hardships because of medical debt. More than half of the cancer survivors surveyed had incurred at least $10,000 in medical debt. Just like cancer itself, this simply isn't fair.
You can start by making sure your bills are accurate and trying to work with your provider directly.
- Request detailed bills. Billing departments make mistakes. Go through your invoices line by line to make sure you aren't being billed for services you did not receive. Are co-pays listed multiple times for the same visit? Are there procedures listed that you know nothing about? Politely inquire about any discrepancies.
- Research fees. Does a charge on your bill seem excessive? Do not be afraid to comparison shop to learn whether your doctor is overcharging. Ask friends what they've paid for the same services. Consider calling other providers to ask what they charge for the same treatment. If you think your doctor is charging much more than the norm, ask your provider about it. Again, remain polite. People are much more likely to be flexible with you if you are pleasant.
- Ask for help. If you simply cannot pay your medical bills - or can't do so without incurring high-interest credit card debt, tell your provider about your situation. Some hospitals and doctor's offices will offer reasonable payment plans. Be wary of any high-interest options or unreasonable fees related to payment plans.
- Keep good notes. Every time you speak to someone in medical billing, write down the name of who you spoke to and the date. This way if someone promises to follow up with you, you can prevent being lost in the shuffle. You can call back and say, "On Jan. 15, I spoke to Janice Jones who stated that this bill would be reduced," for example. If someone offers to correct or reduce a bill, get this in writing as soon as possible.
If challenging or negotiating your medical bills does not provide enough relief, it might be time to consider your legal options. If you reside in the Topeka, Kansas, area, we can help you understand your options to file for bankruptcy protection as well as pursue bankruptcy alternatives, like debt negotiation and settlement. To talk to one of our attorneys about your options for free, send us an email today.