This year, as many as one in five Americans will be contacted by a debt collection agency regarding unpaid medical bills.
Will you be one of them?
Despite more Americans having access to health insurance than ever before under the Affordable Care Act, many people are still unable to afford new, higher deductibles that come as a result of existing medical debts — and the result for these people is mountains of debt that often convinces them to contact a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney or Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney for bankruptcy help.
However, having a costly medical procedure doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to seek help filing bankruptcy. Here are some things you can do to help prevent needing to file a bankruptcy with a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney:
Thoroughly read and understand your medical bills
The worst mistake you can make is to ignore your medical bills and act like there’s not a problem. And before immediately assuming the worst and contacting a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney after being contacted by a debt collector, it’s important to find out if your seemingly valid insurance claim isn’t being processed — and why. By staying up-to-date with the status of your insurance claims and medical bills, you can easily bypass a lot of problems.
Be sure you understand your health insurance plan
The next step in controlling your medical debt is to be a savvy consumer when choosing your health insurance plan, and to select a plan that’s tailored to your needs. Become more health-insurance literate to know what your plan will and will not cover. It’s also a good idea to always keep some money saved away in an emergency fund in case you end up with an unexpectedly costly co-pay.
Know in advance the specifics of your procedure
If the medical procedure you’re getting isn’t an emergency, you should find out if the doctor or other medical professional treating you is covered by your insurance network. This includes all medical personnel involved in the procedure, down to the nurses and anesthesiologists. If any of these people are not covered by your insurance network, you could be unwittingly accruing thousands in “balance billing,” significantly increasing the debt you’ll have.
You shouldn’t have to go bankrupt because you sought the medical care you need. With the above tips and tricks, you can stay out of a bankruptcy and manage your debts more effectively.