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The problem of surprise medical bills

Even for Kentucky residents who have health insurance, surprise medical bills may sometimes arrive. Many people have plans that limit them to seeing providers who are in their networks. If a doctor provides services and is not in the network, the patient may be billed for the difference between what the doctor charges the insurance company and what the company actually paid for the medical services.

It is common for this to happen when a person goes to the hospital. Emergency room doctors may not be in their network, or they may receive services from an anesthesiologist who is not a listed network provider. In some cases, a radiologist or other medical professional may review diagnostic testing for which the patient may be charged out-of-network prices.

There are several things people can do when they receive a medical bill they were not expecting. They should start by reviewing the bill carefully to make certain it is free of errors. They should look for double-billing and other problems, talking to their insurance companies and asking for a full accounting. People should also talk to their doctors so their doctors know they are disputing the bill with the insurance company. This may help keep the doctor from immediately reporting to the credit reporting agencies or turning the matter over to a collection agency.

When people are overwhelmed by unexpected medical debt that they are simply unable to pay, they may also want to consider filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Through bankruptcy, most of the person's unsecured debts, including medical debts, may be discharged. Bankruptcy also halts all further attempts to collect on the debt upon the issuance of the automatic stay by the bankruptcy court. An attorney who has experience with these matters can outline the eligibility and other requirements associated with Chapter 7.

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