Turner & O'Connell, Attorneys at Law
Serving Pennsylvania since 1984
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Medical debt can be financially crippling

You work hard to earn your paycheck. You’ve made a budget, save what you can and do your best to stay on top of things. Planning and organizing are two things that keep your life in balance. You even tucked some money away for the unexpected.

Unfortunately, the unexpected happened. Your child became ill and has been in and out of the hospital. You planned ahead for something like this, but your emergency money is gone. Now, bills are piling up. You continue to work and care for your sick kid, but the cost of care is overwhelming. Your health insurance covers some, but you still have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses to worry about.

What should you do?

You can start taking action to see if there are ways to reduce the burden. Start with the following:

  • Keep thorough documentation. It can be hard to remain organized throughout such a trying time, but you definitely will want to try. Keep a record book of dates and appointments. Note what was done, where it happened and who administered the treatment, procedure or test. You can then use this record to check against insurance statements and bills.
  • Review every bill. For every bill, look at the description, date of service, any classification and insurance coverage. Make sure that no duplicate charges show up. Also watch for charges for routine supplies and prescriptions. Challenge any discrepancies you find and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Examine all insurance statements. Always look at the codes used on insurance statements. Miscoding can happen when the medical facility creates your bill. A miscoded procedure or medication can cause a denial in coverage. Question any denials and know that you can include your child’s doctor in any negotiation or clarification process.
  • Request a payment plan. Many hospitals offer different types of payment plans. This could mean paying a small amount every month until the debt is paid off. Some institutions have plans based on income. Speak to the billing office to determine your options.
  • Look into government assistant programs. It might be possible that your child qualifies for government aid. Medicaid or temporary assistance are options that some families use to help with medical expenses.

And if these options arent enough?

You may consider filing for bankruptcy. Filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy can often allow you to keep your belongings, while excusing unsecured debts, such as those medical bills. When you file, an automatic stay is issued. This means that collectors must stop contacting you.

You have a lot to worry about. While the health of your child is your top priority, make sure you take the time to talk to the health care facility about your billing options.

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