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Tip: keeping disputed medical bills out of collections can save money

Readers know that health care is a big business and you have to pay to play. Even with health insurance, costs can be great for patients, particularly those undergoing emergency procedures or treatment for major medical conditions. When patients receive medical bills for these procedures, the shock can be great. And while patients are often able to work with providers to get on a payment plan, there are some cases where billing isn’t correct or the hospital has simply charged and arm and a leg.

In cases where billing is incorrect, the patient should attempt to correct the mistake with the provider as soon as possible. In cases where the price is right but simply outlandish, patients may be able to negotiate the bill to get a price reduction. One certainly can’t count on this being a successful approach, though, and refusing to pay a bill that seems unfair can have a high cost. 

Contrary to what some consumers believe, unpaid medical bills do show up on one’s credit report and can impact one’s interest rates. Because of this, experts say that it may be a good idea to pay on a disputed medical bill so as to avoid potentially higher costs down the road.

For those who really find themselves in a difficult spot due to medical bills, of course, negotiation and payment plans will only help so much before more drastic measures need to be taken. Medical bills are one of the most prominent causes of bankruptcy filings in the United States, so patients who find themselves considering a bankruptcy filing are not alone.

It is important for financially distressed patients to work with an experienced advocate when filing for bankruptcy.  Doing so will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and results in the best possible outcome. 

Source: Fox Business, “Can I Negotiate Medical Debts on My Credit Report?,” April 4, 2014. 

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