Tips for Tackling Medical Debt

Medical debt is a huge contributor to personal bankruptcy. In fact, it’s the number one reason why Americans file bankruptcy. It doesn’t take much for hospital bills to go spiraling out of control.

Try these strategies if you’re struggling with medical debt.

Appeal Insurance Company Decisions

A denial from your insurance company can be financially devastating. However, just because a claim was denied once doesn’t mean the insurance company won’t cover your medical bills. Sometimes, the problem is as simple as a data entry error. If you can find and correct easy errors you may shave thousands of dollars from the “patient responsibility” portion of your bill.

Consult the Hospital’s Charity Department

More than half the hospitals in the country are designated as charity hospitals. These hospitals receive significant tax benefits. They must publish their financial assistance guidelines. They’re also prohibited from using certain aggressive collection techniques, above and beyond existing restrictions medical providers must adhere to.

Look for one in your area, and start going to that one.

Here in Philadelphia local examples include Temple University Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Shriner’s Hospital for Children, Penn Medicine, and Roxborough Memorial.

Charity hospitals usually have a means test to determine whether they’ll help. If you’ve got an especially low income they might forgive the entire debt. If you have the chance to read each hospital’s financial assistance policy before you go you might be in better shape when the bill comes due.

Sometimes they’ll only wipe out a portion of the debt though, or will simply refer you to other programs which may or may not be at all helpful.

Make Sure You’re Not Dealing With Zombie Debt

You’ve probably got enough on your plate dealing with recent medical bills. Make sure your medical debt isn’t a zombie debt.

Medical bills get sold to third party debt collectors the same way credit card bills do. Sometimes they’re well past the statute of limitations. Sometimes you’ve already paid them. Make sure you know the sources of any medical debts before you panic.

See also: How to Deal with Collection Calls.

File Bankruptcy

The good news is it is absolutely possible to discharge medical debt through bankruptcy. This is true both for Chapter 7 bankruptcies and for Chapter 13 bankruptcies. For many families, the fresh start offered by bankruptcy is the best way to prevent medical debt from jeopardizing their financial futures.

If you’re drowning in medical debt and can’t find your way out, contact us. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. You’ve already dealt with the stress of an accident, injury, or disease. Don’t increase your stress by waiting too long to file bankruptcy.

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