How to Manage Exorbitant Medical Bills
Individuals who are blessed with good health are very lucky. Some are not so healthy and when things go wrong, they go really wrong. Whether they have a painful or a terminal illness or they are unprepared with proper medical insurance, things like this happen... all the time in fact. What would happen if you were suddenly hit with a huge medical bill for an unexpected breakdown in your health? How would you manage?
In 2007, the American Journal of Medicine conducted a study on the manageability of medical bills, and found that 62% of bankruptcies were related to the astronomical cost of paying for hospital and other medical care. While you might think that in an emergency you could put costs on your credit card, fall back on your savings, or even remortgage your home, for a chronic or long-term condition, this might not be a viable solution. Even acute conditions requiring major surgery might require more money than you could raise.
So what can you do? A smart move is to treat your medical expenses like any other household bill that needs to be paid:
- Check your bills. You wouldn't think twice about checking your credit card bills or bank statements to see if there was anything that didn't make sense, so apply the same logic to any medical bills. Various bodies will claim that up to 99% of hospital bills contain overcharges, so look closely for duplicate items, and any jargon that you simply don't understand. Ask to have it explained, and if it still doesn't make sense, ask again!
- Barter. Ask for discounts and the ability to make downpayments. A credit agreement is far easier - and cheaper - for your creditor to manage than chasing you for a bad debt, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the response when you ask for a final settlement sum.
- Check your insurance. If you're in the position where your insurance company is stalling over meeting costs, or worse still, refusing to pay them altogether, you may have to be proactive to find a solution. Once you've checked that the hospital is actually billing the company, and consulted your insurance company as to why they're not paying up, you may have to file a grievance if no other solution is forthcoming.
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