Even if you have health insurance, a serious illness or an accident that leaves you with injuries can cause your medical bills to pile up – and fast – when you consider deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance. You can't afford to pay those bills, especially if you lost income while dealing with the illness or injury.
Here are some tips to cope with your medical debt before you face calls from debt collectors or begin to ponder bankruptcy.
- Don't ignore medical bills. Not opening the mail as it comes and pushing the bills into the back of a drawer or hiding them in a book won't make them go away.
- Open that bill and study it. Just as in any circumstance, mistakes can be made with medical billing. If you see anything that looks wrong, call your provider and ask to have it explained. You just might find that you have been billed for a procedure you didn't have, and that simple bill can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Also, if you find your insurance hasn't paid for a procedure, call the insurance company and inquire why.
- Negotiate with your provider. Call the billing clerk and advise them that you won't be able to pay this bill and ask for a discount. It never hurts to ask.
- Figure out how much you can afford each month and ask to make payment arrangements. Make your payments as scheduled so that your account won't be sent to a collection agency.
- If you believe you might qualify for Medicaid, contact the Ohio state Medicaid office. If you qualify, Medicaid can be used, under some circumstances, to pay back medical bills.
Unexpected medical expenses can lead to a financial struggle and the seemingly endless calls and letters from debt collectors. These tips show there are steps you can take, however, and if you are unsuccessful, a consultation with an attorney could help.