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Recommendations for handling medical debt

In Ohio and across the United States, individuals are struggling with medical debt. Collectors seeking payment of medical bills will contact approximately 20 percent of adults in this country by the end of 2014, according to reports. More than one-third of all the accounts sent to collections result from medical bills. The primary recommendations of some medical billing advocates have to do with record keeping, knowledge, payment options and staying on top of the situation.

Record keeping means more than just keeping copies of medical records. Patients should also keep detailed notes of the things that happen after treatment; itemized bills and relevant insurance documents should be requested and organized. Notes should also be made of any telephone communications with medical billing or insurance staff. Knowledge of the relevant insurance policy terms is also important. One of the main reasons patients struggle to negotiate with insurers is that the former are so often at a severe information disadvantage.

Too many people go into debt because they are unaware of the payment options that may be available to them. If there are funds in a flexible spending or health savings account, for example, use of those funds may result in discounts. If it is not possible to pay right away, an individual should not procrastinate. Medical providers are generally quicker than other creditors in sending bills to collections. It is often easier to negotiate bills before that happens.

In a situation where a person is unable to pay outstanding medical bills, an attorney may be able to help outline the options available to eliminate debt. An attorney with bankruptcy experience may provide advice about Chapter 7 debt relief or assist in negotiations with health care providers or other creditors.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "5 Expert Tips for Negotiating Your Medical Bills", Lacie Glover, October 16, 2014

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