Options for Reducing Medical Debt
It is very easy to fall into medical debt, even when a person has insurance. Many insurance policies have high deductibles and low coinsurance rates, not to mention co-pays for things like office visits and prescription drugs. Even relatively simple medical procedures could cost thousands of dollars, and if a person needs surgery, then they are looking at much more.
What can you do? Most medical debt is unsecured, meaning that there is no collateral pledged. This does give debtors some options.
Check Your Bill for Errors
One reason medical expenses are so high is that hospitals do a poor job of billing properly. According to Healthline, around 4 out of 5 bills contain errors. Hospitals use codes, but patients get overcharged when the wrong code is entered. Also, hospitals often double bill for the same procedure, forcing patients to pay twice.
Go over your bill carefully and call with any questions that you have. The hospital should have a representative who can explain the bill to you. Needless to say, all bills should be itemized.
Check that Your Insurance Picked up Its Share
Hospitals aren’t the only entities that make mistakes. Your insurer might have denied coverage for certain procedures or not have applied your deductible properly. Make sure they are covering everything they say they will in your policy. Keep close track of who you spoke to and what they said. Escalate the call if you are not happy with the answer you receive.
Every state has a statute of limitations for debt. This is the maximum amount of time a creditor has to bring a lawsuit. If you are nearing the deadline period, then you might choose to do nothing at all. This can save you time and money. After the statute of limitations has run, the debt is not collectible.
Request Medical Forgiveness
Some hospitals have forgiveness programs for people who are suffering from verifiable hardships, like disability. The hospital probably realizes you cannot pay, so they might forgive some or all of your debt.
Negotiate a Settlement
Hospitals realize that medical debt is unsecured, meaning a patient could easily wipe it out in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. For this reason, they might be motivated to settle. If the hospital sold your account to a collection agency, you could negotiate with them.
Open the negotiation by offering to pay 25% of your bill in cash in return for the hospital forgiving the remainder. They will probably reject this offer, but you can come back by offering 30%. Negotiate as you would if you were buying a car. If at first you hear “no,” try again by asking to speak to someone’s supervisor.
Most medical debts are easy to clear. If you file Chapter 7, you could wipe out the debt in a matter of months.
At Nowack & Olson, PLLC, our Plantation debt lawyers have helped countless debtors get a fresh financial start. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation so we can decide the best strategy for tackling your debt.