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Medical debt problems common in the U.S.

Receiving care from a doctor or hospital can have rather large bills attached to it. Even with insurance, such bills can lead to a person having a rather significant amount of medical debt. Struggles with medical debt are a very common thing here in the United States. According to researchers with the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation, around one-third of Americans experience such struggles.

There are some things individuals can do to try to prevent medical debt from becoming overwhelming.

One is to enquire before receiving treatment about what the cost of the treatment is and how much will be covered by insurance. Upon receiving such information, being upfront and honest with the doctor or facility that will be providing the care about your ability to pay what will be owed in relation to the treatment can be helpful, as it can allow for the upfront negotiation of a payment plan that is within a person’s means. Such proactive action on the front end of things can help prevent a person from being later surprised with a medical bill that is beyond their ability to pay.

Another is to carefully check insurance statements and medical bills after receiving treatment to make sure that all the services the bills charge for were actually provided and that the insurance payments that were supposed to be made were made. If a person notices anything off with the statements, they should contact the relevant parties to enquire as to what is behind the discrepancies and what can be done to correct the matter if the discrepancies were the result of an error. Paying medical bills can be challenging enough without having to pay for something you don’t actually owe.

Another is to exercise great care when it comes to what sorts of things you use to pay medical bills. Some payment methods, such as using a credit card with a high interest rate, when not exercised with care could actually result in a person being in a worse debt situation than they otherwise would have been in.

Of course, sometimes even with vigilance, circumstances arise that cause a person’s medical debt situation to shift from manageable to overwhelming. Contacting a bankruptcy attorney is something individuals who are struggling with medical debt may want to consider. Such attorneys can advise individuals on how best to address such debt.

Source: YourWestValley.com, “Study: Medical debt problems afflict 1 in 3 Americans,” Lexie Verdon, April 27, 2014

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