How to Deal With Medical Bills or Debt
According to recent research, 137 million Americans are currently facing medical bill problems or are working to pay off medical debt. That is an astounding number. Healthcare bills are the number one reason that consumers cite when considering taking money out of their retirement accounts or filing for bankruptcy. Of all personal bankruptcies, 66.5 percent involve medical debt. If you are struggling with medical debt, you are far from alone. Below, we discuss some of your options for reducing or eliminating the burden of crippling medical debt. In South Florida, call an experienced Miami Beach debt relief and bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options for debt relief.
Check the Charges and Negotiate Your Debts
Do not let intimidating black-and-white bills fool you: Most medical bills are negotiable before, during, and after care. You can scour the bill for possible overcharges, unnecessary treatments, extra costs added, or exorbitant charges for procedures you did undertake. Any errors you find in your bills means money that will not have to come out of your pocket.
Many medical entities will initially set absurdly high prices, knowing that insurance companies will pay only a fraction and that the rest is likely to go unpaid. If your insurance does not cover some or all of your healthcare expenses, then you may be given the inflated bill directly. You, like an insurance provider, can push back. A savvy debt relief attorney can help you negotiate a discount on the ticket price for your necessary medical care.
Payment Plans and Financial Assistance
Health care entities, like other creditors, prefer to get some payment over none, and they prefer to get paid back over a longer period of time to receiving no payments at all. With the help of a debt relief attorney, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan under which you pay for your care in monthly installments that you can actually afford. You might even be able to get an interest-free plan. On the other hand, you might be able to negotiate a reduced overall payment if you can pay what you owe in a larger lump-sum upfront.
If you are unable to pay your bills even after negotiation, you might qualify for bill forgiveness, depending on your healthcare provider. Some medical organizations have charitable funds set up to help lower-income individuals pay the bills they cannot afford.
If you are unable to negotiate a payment plan with the medical entity directly, you may want to look into obtaining a personal loan. You will be on the hook for payments on the loan, as well as the interest generated, but it is far preferable to trying to pay your medical bills with a credit card. If you expect your financial troubles will continue, however, this approach may simply be kicking the can down the road.
File for Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is no longer a stigmatized event, to the extent it ever was. Every year, more than 750,000 individuals across the United States file for non-business bankruptcy. For people struggling with debt, it offers a means to get a clean slate, eliminate oppressive debt, stop harassing calls and letters, and start on a path toward financial security.
Medical debt is the quintessential form of debt that can be discharged in bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves a discharge (complete removal) of unsecured debts like medical bills. Chapter 13, on the other hand, allows individual debtors with more regular income to consolidate their qualifying debt into a three or five-year repayment plan with lower monthly payments. Remaining unsecured debt, including medical bills, is discharged.
Bankruptcy might not be your first choice, but it may nevertheless be the wisest. Bankruptcy is a legal tool that hundreds of thousands of Americans utilize every year to get out from under crippling debt. If you are dealing with the fallout from unexpected illness or injury in the family, call a dedicated Florida debt attorney to find out whether bankruptcy might be your strongest step toward financial independence.
Get Help from a Knowledgeable Debt Relief Attorney
If you are struggling with mounting medical bills or other consumer debt in Florida, you do not have to shoulder your burdens alone. Call the seasoned and effective debt relief and bankruptcy attorney at the Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A., for a free consultation. We offer considered, compassionate advice and representation for debtors looking seeking financial security and freedom.