Medical debt disasters: How to fight back and avoid bankruptcy

Medical debt hurts Americans every day. You may struggle with paying hundreds each month decide that the only option is bankruptcy.

The good news is that bankruptcy is avoidable in some cases, but only if you act quickly upon receipt of your medical bills. There are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your interests moving forward, even with large debts.

1. Check the bill for mistakes

The reality is that anyone can make mistakes, even the people itemizing your bill. Review each bill carefully. If tit isn’t itemized, call and ask for an itemization, so you can see exactly where your money is going. If you note services being charged twice or issues with the price of services being higher than the average at other hospitals or medical providers, it’s worth discussing that with the billing department.

2. Negotiate your way out of debt

Sometimes, you can get medical debts forgiven or reduced significantly through negotiation. It’s a reality that the majority of people don’t have thousands of dollars sitting around in the bank to pay off unexpected medical expenses. Talk to the individual in charge of the billing department at the hospital or provider’s office. See if there is a way to reduce your costs through programs in place for indigent patients. If you don’t qualify, find out if you can make affordable payments each month.

3. Offer a settlement

Finally, consider offering a settlement. For instance, if the bill is for $600 and you can only afford $500, ask if they will settle the bill for that amount. It doesn’t hurt to ask, as the worst the provider can say is “no.”

In many cases, providers are happier to take some money rather than than get nothing. Most people understand the significant costs associated with medical care and will do what they can to help patients pay back a reasonable portion of their debts.

The reality is that medical debts are a serious problem in America, and they’re not going away any time soon. However, there are options for those who have large debts. With honesty and persistence, it’s possible to reduce what you owe to a reasonable amount, so you can make payments and get out of debt following a medical emergency.