Medical bills and billing traps-a prime cause of financial problems

Here is another perceptive article from the New York Times about the traps people can get into when they end up in a hospital or medical facility that is out of their insurance company’s provider network .

The system is completely irrational, but that doesn’t help people who find themselves trapped by high medical bills. We are still finding that medical expenses are still a major contributor to financial distress and eventual bankruptcy. We are also seeing increasingly aggressive collection efforts by hospitals. In recent cases, these have continued even after a bankruptcy filing.

If you are facing high medical bills, we recommend you start by verifying the charges and the services. In some instances, collectors are trying to collect beyond the amounts they have agreed to accept from the health insurance carrier. You can start by using the appeal process through your health insurance.

You have the right to dispute a medical bill, if you think there is a basis. But too often, people throw out or ignor the Explanation of Benefits or “EOB” issued by the health insurance carrier. You need to keep all medical bills and related papers.

Even if the process does not end entirely in your favor, consider efforts to settle for a reduced amount.

Of course, before agreeing to pay anything, you need to prepare a personal budget to compare your monthly net income to the total you need to spend to meet basic living expenses.  There are budget forms on the the Forms page of our website. Don’t get yourself in over your head by promising more than you can pay.

If the bills are substantial, you may benefit from a free consultation to examine the options available to you.

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