Medical bills are the #1 reason people file for bankruptcy in the U.S. It is estimated that 56 million Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills.
The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report in March 2017 around it’s findings on Healthcare Costs in America. Here are some of the highlights.
- 43% of adults with health insurance say they have difficulty affording their deductible, and roughly a third say they have trouble affording their premiums.
- 29% of Americans report problems paying medical bills.
- 73% of Americans report cutting back spending on food, clothing, or basic household items.
- Health care-related worries and problems paying for care are particularly prevalent among the uninsured, individuals with lower incomes, and those in poorer health; but women and members of racial minority groups are also more likely than their peers to report these issues.
I am blessed to have great insurance coverage now, but I know what it’s like to have a medical emergency and not have insurance. I had just let my Cobra coverage go because it was costing me $600 a month out of pocket and I twisted my ankle. I thought the pain of the injury was ridiculous until I started receiving the medical bills and then the phone calls. It took some time and energy, but I negotiated with the providers and was able to take care of the bills.
In general, if you have outstanding medical bills, you should consider contacting the provider(s) to negotiate. Know what you can pay and be prepared to come to an agreement. Facing the situation will leave you feeling empowered and that much closer to reaching your financial goals. If you are not comfortable negotiating on your own behalf, consider speaking to a Medical Bill Advocate. Medical Bill Advocates are professionals who review medical bills, identify any errors, and negotiate the balance down. There is typically a fee for their service, but it may be well worth it when you compare the reduced balance and lower stress level to the cost.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills, explore and exhaust all of your options. Know that you are not alone. Be strategic and empower yourself.
Remember, if you don’t face it, you can’t fix it.