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Debt and health care: Uninsured, underinsured struggling with medical bills

Created: On February 3, 2011 @ 4:06 pm In

The problem with not having health insurance is that you don’t miss it until you need it. [1] PBS reports that 44 million Americans are uninsured, and another 38 million are underinsured, which means they can face thousands of dollars in medical bills if they become ill. Any one of these circumstances can contribute to ruining your credit, your budget and your qualify of life. High deductibles and co-payments cause financial problems for families who cannot afford quality health coverage;  about one third of the uninsured have problems meeting their bills, and this financial pressure causes many without adequate health coverage to put off seeing their doctors and other health care providers until they become seriously ill.

One hospital visit away from bankruptcy: Avoiding crushing medical debt

 It’s important to get the care you need when you need it. Here are some tips for reducing and settling medical bills.

  • Advise your care providers that you have no insurance, and ask about financial assistance programs. Hospital social workers and billing office personnel may refer you to programs for financial assistance or reduce your bill. You won’t know until you ask, so put pride aside and ask for the help you need.
  • Contact billing agents and attempt to [2] negotiate a repayment plan or settlement. Note payment dates, amounts and conversations regarding payment arrangements in writing. Provide all information requested to evaluate your ability to pay. Cooperate with medical billing personnel; they’re only doing their jobs and are more likely to help if you’re willing to listen and work toward a solution.
  • Do pay what you can afford toward your medical bills.  Making small payments can prevent having to deal with third party collectors.
  • Do not tolerate threats or rudeness from collection agents. Health care providers often sell uncollectable debt to third party collection agencies, which can allow collectors to be rude and threatening when attempting to collect on unpaid bills. Ask collectors not to call you at work and terminate abusive calls. 
  • Contact a [3] credit counseling and debt consolidation service for help. Non-profit consumer credit counseling and debt consolidation programs work with creditors to establish affordable repayment terms.
  • Contact a debt settlement agent or attorney to make a final attempt at settling debt before filing bankruptcy. Debt settlement services negotiate with creditors to reduce the amounts you owe. Beware of debt settlement scams, and don’t pay any money up front for debt settlement services.
  • When all else fails, contact a [4] bankruptcy attorney. No one wants to file bankruptcy, but if you’re being threatened with wage garnishments, frozen bank accounts and you cannot meet your other expenses due to medical bills, you can seek relief under bankruptcy laws. Bankruptcy attorneys typically provide free consultations and can advise you of bankruptcy options. Although not an easy decision, please remember that bankruptcy is a legal means of eliminating or reducing insurmountable medical and [5] credit card debt.

Gather the information you need from creditors, credit counselors and other financial advisors. Don’t be pressured into taking immediate action; take time to evaluate and compare options.

Article printed from DebtHelp.com Blog: http://www.debthelp.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.debthelp.com/blog/2011/02/03/debt-and-health-care-uninsured-underinsured-struggling-with-medical-bills/

URLs in this post:
[1] PBS: http://www.pbs.org/healthcarecrisis/uninsured.html
[2] negotiate: http://www.debthelp.com/blog/2011/01/26/diy-debt-management-tips-for-negotiating-credit-card-debt/
[3] credit counseling and debt consolidation service: http://www.debthelp.com/debt-consolidation/credit-counseling.html
[4] bankruptcy: http://www.debthelp.com/bankruptcy/options.html
[5] credit card debt: http://www.debthelp.com/bankruptcy/options.html