You're having trouble breathing. Your chest hurts. Is it a heart attack? You don't take any chances and call 911.
After the ambulance ride to one of the best Ohio hospitals, a battery of tests and an overnight stay hooked to a heart monitor, the doctors rule you OK to go home and give you a referral to a doctor for a follow-up visit. You are relieved -- until you get the bill a few weeks later.
In these days of high-deductible health plans, you're on the hook for a lot of money and have no idea how to pay it. Then the next bill comes. And the next one. You shove the statements in the drawer, afraid to look at them.
When it comes to medical debt relief, you have some options, however. They include:
- Make a payment, even if it's just a small percentage of what you owe. Let your provider know that you can't pay the whole thing now, and arrange for a payment plan. Sometimes, doctors will settle for less than the amount due to avoid sending a bill to collections, which is costly for them.
- Contact your insurance company if you think the company should be paying more than the amount shown on your settlement statement from your insurer. If your insurance carrier offers an online chat, talk to your company that way to give you a record of the conversation. Also, have your policy handy so that you can refer to your coverage areas.
- Research state and federal programs that help people with their medical debt. While these programs often are for specific groups – veterans, seniors or low-income people – they often can refer you to organizations that can help.
- Do some research to figure out what the standard price is in your area for your medical procedures. Start negotiating with your doctor as soon as possible. Your provider probably won't write off as much as you'd like, but anything helps.
Sometimes, the medical bills are just overwhelming, and you still might need assistance to hold off the collection agency. Plus, your credit score will be negatively impacted if you don't pay your bills. An attorney who has experience in debt relief could help to answer many of your questions and work with medical providers on your behalf.