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Negotiating medical bills difficult, but worth it

There's been much written and discussed lately with regard to the rising costs associated with obtaining health care in the United States. As politicians haggle over how best to control rising medical costs, Ohio residents are often left literally footing the, often astronomical, bill.

No one plans to break an arm or get pneumonia. However, when such medical emergencies present, most individuals head to the hospital where they are then at the mercy of medical and insurance providers. In many cases, costs associated with a trip to the emergency room or doctor's office can quickly run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

For those Americans dealing with medical debt, trying to get a handle on such debt can be overwhelming. While most medical emergencies don't warrant planning, for those individuals who have the luxury of time when planning a medical procedure or treatment, it pays to shop around for the best deal.

Medical costs and expenses vary greatly from hospital to hospital. It pays, therefore, to contact a hospital prior to seeking medical care and inquire about associated costs. Additionally, there are online tools that can aid in researching the best and least expensive options.

Much like negotiating over the price while buying a car, it's wise to attempt to negotiate for a lower price when seeking medical care. Costs are often shifted and highly inflated which allows hospital administrators room to negotiate a lower cost. Don't assume, however, that obtaining a lower cost will be easy. Negotiating a lower price for health care takes persistence and perseverance.

In cases where an individual is struggling with medical debt, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the best option. Under the terms of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an individual's unsecured debt is discharged. Medical debt falls under this realm thereby freeing an individual from being forced to make the impossible decision of whether to pay the rent and buy food or pay towards a medical bill.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "How to Negotiate Hospital Bills and Avoid Medical Bankruptcy," Christina LaMontagne, Aug. 19, 2013

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