The Nightmare of High Medical Bills

Although most people do not plan for it, many people will find themselves faced with a trip to the E.R. or might receive negative news from their personal doctor which could end up costing thousands of dollars in high medical bills. Even if one owns medical insurance, health problems could still result in catastrophic debt. What’s worse is that the majority of healthcare providers do not provide fair billing practices which only add problems for patients. The fact is, that the average American is really only one major illness away from becoming bankrupt. In this article we will address this problem and offer a few tips in order to avoid high medical bills.

High Medical Bills

Startling Statistics

  • Lacking Health Insurance – Over 15% of the American population, which is projected to be about 45 million people do not have health insurance. Nearly have of these people are suffering from high medical bills that average more than $9,000 dollars a person
  • Those who are Covered – Interestingly enough, over 60% of American Families who are suffering from high medical bills actually own health insurance and a record of 75% of people who have filed for bankruptcy said it was caused by medical debt.
  • Lack of Charity Care – Interestingly enough, many hospitals are actually registered as non-profits due to the fact that they provide discounted or even free services to patients who are qualified. The problem is that over 70% of patients that are suffering from the cost of high medical bills were never offered any financial assistance from their medical providers. Ironically, those who are uninsured and are of the lower income tax bracket are often charged much more for their treatments than other, more financially secured, people are.
  • Law Suits – If a debt is not repaid in a timely manner, medical institutions will often send the debts into a collections agency, file judgments, garnish wages and even acquire liens for the patients’ house if they are not able to afford to pay their debts.
  • Credit – Health care providers will often offer out credit card loans for those who are unable to pay. Kaiser is one of these providers and offers a credit card with introductory rate of 10%. This is a decent rate, however, it is known to quickly increase up to 24.24% APR. This can become so expensive that your debts might actually increase as you pay each month, trapping victims in high medical bills that they will never be able to pay off.
  • Collections and Credit – The Federal State Reserve has stated that approximately 50% of collections and 20% of lawsuits filed on credit history are directly related to high medical bills. Fact is, that once a health care provider sends the debt to collections they are damaging the patient’s credit score which could result in further debt down the road.
  • Denying Care to Those in Debt – Many Health Care Providers have policies that enable them to deny care to those who have faulted on their payments for previous treatments. This makes it very difficult for those who are in rural areas and have fallen ill to find necessary health support.

The Issues

All in all, many patients become stuck with a financial crisis due to these abusive debt practices. These practices will often lead to destroyed credit, bankruptcy and even the loss of one’s home.

Alternatives

It is important to know your options, evaluate your medical insurances such as Medicaid and charity options that are available for you. Ask the office for medical billing questions about your financial options and don’t be afraid to try to negotiate with them. Make sure you clearly understand your options before you finish talking with these individuals.

Bills

Make sure you review every bill closely before paying on it. It is not uncommon to find extra charges and other errors on health care invoices. Make sure to take some time to closely read over your bills and make sure to challenge any costs you feel are incorrect.

Credit Cards

Rather than using the Hospitals payment options, use your own personal card that already has low APR. If your credit is good enough, try to acquire a credit card with a 0% introductory rate and that keeps a low APR after the period expires.

Financial Traps

Make sure to pay the crucial payments before your medical bills, such as your mortgage. Make sure to never take out a home equity loan in order to cover your high medical bill as this could put you out of your home very quickly.

Solutions

Make sure to regulate charity care programs, health care providers will provide clear standards in order to obtain reduced rates or even free care to patients. You might also wish to set some clear discount policies for your income. There are policies known as sliding scale billing which will ensure the poorest patients do not pay the most for their health care.
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