Medical debts are typically unavoidable, but that doesn't mean you can't avoid paying everything that's on the bill. Medical bills often have errors, and there are also options if you simply can't afford to pay. Here's what you can do to overcome a medical debt.
Ask for an Itemized Bill
Hospitals and doctors routinely lower their bills simply because you asked for an itemized bill. It forces them to review each charge to make sure that it was a service they actually provided for you versus something that they usually do but didn't. They may also take off things that they can't find proper documentation for.
Next, review your bill for any services they didn't perform. For example, make sure you weren't charged for a medication you never received or for an overnight visit when you went home the same day. Again, mistakes can happen, and the billing department may have billed based on what's normal versus what actually happened.
After you agree with all of the charges, it's time to negotiate. Ask if a discount is available if you can pay immediately. You can also see if you can get on a payment plan if you pay all at once. Many people end up not fully paying their medical debts, so the provider may agree to a reduced payment or payment plan to guarantee that they collect something. Make sure you get in writing that any remaining balance won't go to collections or affect your credit report.
Legal Challenge to Billing Practices
If you were unable to agree with the provider on what your bill should be, your next call should be to a medical debt lawyer. You have the legal right to be billed correctly. If you believe the charges were excessive or for things you didn't receive, you can dispute the bill in court. In addition to having your bill reduced, you may also be entitled to penalties paid by the provider.
Bankruptcy is a serious option, but it's something that you should consider for a large medical debt that you're unable to pay. While it will hurt your credit, missing other payments or having your checking account bounce because you're struggling to keep up with your medical debt will also hurt your credit. Bankruptcy can either eliminate your debt entirely or get you a more affordable payment plan.
For more information, contact a medical debt lawyer, such as Havner Law Firm.