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Best practices for effectively managing medical debt

Ask many people who have lived through a serious medical event what was the hardest part, and many will say that it was not anything that happened in the hospital or doctor's office, but the resulting debt that followed. Medical debt can be stressful, and it often takes far longer to get out from under those financial obligations than it did to recover from the illness or injury that led to the debt. The following information is offered to Washington residents who are facing serious medical debt, and looking for relief.

One thing that is important to understand is that just because a bill has a number on the bottom line, that number is not necessarily accurate. The billing process has multiple steps and passes through many different hands. Each one of those individuals can make a mistake, as can the computers that process the bills. Check each and every bill for accuracy, and don't be shy about challenging charges that seem off.

Once it has been determined that all of the charges are legitimate, it is time to negotiate how those bills will be paid. Care providers are willing to work with patients to find a payment arrangement that is acceptable to both parties. They want to be paid, and they are aware that without a degree of flexibility, patients may be forced into bankruptcy, and those bills will remain unpaid.

In fact, for some Washington residents, personal bankruptcy will end up being the best possible option following a serious medical event. Bankruptcy can lead to the discharge of the vast majority of medical debt. That can leave individuals free to rebuild their financial stability as they move through the recovery process and regain their health.

Source: USA Today, "3 medical debt mistakes to avoid", Sean Pyles, April 30, 2017

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