This has been a tough flu season in many parts of the country. When the flu or some other illness cuts through an area, it can leave many people with unexpected health care needs. This could include needing an ambulance or care at an emergency room. These care needs can have a variety of expenses attached to them.
Being insured does not guarantee no surprise medical bills
Health insurance is supposed to provide individuals with a degree of protection when it comes to unexpected health care expenses. So, if you are insured, you don't really have to worry about surprisingly high medical bills from the flu or other illnesses, right?
Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. There are a range of situations that might lead to you, even if insured, facing surprise medical expenses in relation to the flu or another illness. One is if the care you received, such as emergency room or ambulance care, was from an out-of-network hospital, care provider or doctor. Out-of-network care can in some cases carry higher deductibles and higher out-of-pocket costs. This could lead to some very unwelcome surprises when you see your medical bill.
How much in extra costs out-of-network care can carry for individuals depends on many things, including the specifics of their insurance plan.
Prevention efforts don't always work
You may take efforts to keep your care in-network, but this doesn't always work out. In emergency situations, you might not have much of a choice of where your care comes from. Also, particularly complex medical situations can lead to more doctors being involved, which could up the chances of an out-of-network doctor playing a part in the care.
When surprise medical bills get overwhelming
Sometimes, unexpected medical bills, like those arising from out-of-network care, could leave you facing the possibility of having more debt than you can handle.
What options you might have if this occurs depends on the circumstances. In some instances, there may be ways to get a major surprise medical bill down to a manageable level, such as through getting billing errors corrected or negotiating discounts. However this isn't always possible.
It can be possible to get medical debt discharged in bankruptcy. So, there are situations in which the bankruptcy process might provide a workable solution to a serious medical debt problem. Individuals wondering if this route could be right for them should discuss their circumstances with a skilled bankruptcy lawyer.