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Dealing with medical debt

Many Ohio residents are concerned about their mounting hospital bills. Medical debt is unlike other debts, such as credit card debt, because it is so difficult to predict. It can also be difficult to control since the amount of medical therapy and treatment that will be needed is usually unknown to the patient.

The initial bill sent out by the health care affiliate typically does not accrue interest. However, health care providers differ in their invoicing terms. Payment plans can ordinarily be negotiated with the company so that the entire amount does not have to be paid at once. One way to negotiate the amount of the medical bill is to look at the specific charges and check for billing errors since over 75 percent of all medical bills contain errors in billing. If charges cannot be lowered by making a phone call to a doctor, the patient may need to make a more formal appeal or talk to a medical consultant for further advice.

Even if a health care provider is willing to negotiate the terms of the invoice, they will still expect prompt payment. When this does not happen, the majority of medical care providers will send the bill to a third-party agency for collection. Medical bills that have gone to a collection agency are reported on a patient's credit report, although they do not hold as much weight as other types of debt.

Patients who have unmanageable debt can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in order to seek debt elimination or principal reduction. A lawyer may assist in the process of filing for bankruptcy, which varies from state to state.

Source: NerdWallet, "Medical Debt vs. Credit Card Debt: Which is Worse?", Lindsay Konsko , January 05, 2015

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