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Negotiate to avoid medical debt

The vast majority of Americans who file for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy carry some kind of medical debt. It is hard to avoid the fact that all Americans are feeling the financial strain related to the high costs of medical care. An increasing number of Washington, D.C., residents are forced to take extreme financial measures to manage their medical debt. Even if you are already overwhelmed by medical debt, you can take steps to reduce your financial stress. Experts in the field provide tips about negotiating with medical providers.

The most obvious option for reducing your medical costs is to simply choose a less expensive hospital. Hospital prices are not standard between facilities. For example, a surgery at your local, smaller hospital could cost a third of what a specialized facility would charge. If you are seeking general care that can be managed by competent physicians at a general hospital, stick with the cheaper option.

Consumers of health care can also calculate the value of their medical treatment, as determined by the government. Federal services such as Medicare offer steep discounts to their patients, sometimes dropping prices by a whopping 73 percent. In other words, other people are receiving the same treatment at a severe discount. To find out what the government thinks your treatment is worth, multiply the total cost by 0.27, or 27 percent.

Finally, use this information to simply ask for a lower rate. It may take several calls to reach the proper hospital officials, but persistence pays off in this case. Consider either negotiating for a monthly payment plan or receiving a discount for paying for the entire procedure up front.

As with all financial matters, most Washington, D.C., residents can benefit from the advice of a professional. Trained attorneys and financial planners can provide insight for those who are struggling under the weight of medical debt.

Source: www.nydailynews.com, "How to negotiate medical bills and avoid medical bankruptcy" Christina Lamontagne, Aug. 20, 2013

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