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Medical debt and available debt relief options

Unfortunately, life can bring financial challenges for residents in Massachusetts and elsewhere. While some of these can easily be overcome, when the health of an individual or a family member is depreciating, medical bills can become overwhelming. When health and wellbeing of an individual is the focal point, it can be difficult to see the financial repercussions; however, there are debt relief options available to those struggling with medical debt.

Dealing with medical debt is not much different than addressing other forms of debt. It will require the debtor to consider the total amount he or she owes and the best way to reduce or eliminate that amount. The first step is to take action as soon as the bill arrives. If you know you cannot afford the bill as soon as it arrives, it is important to attempt to reduce them. Sometimes hospitals are willing to negotiate the rate down. However, if that is not an option, it is still possible to take advantage of payment plans offered by the hospital.

If medical bills are not paid in a timely manner, they could move on to a collection agency. If this occurs, the debtor could negotiate medical bills with the collection agency, agreeing to a full and final settlement. This not only addressed the debt but could also reduce the impact it has on a credit score and prevent wage garnishment.

When patients or family members know that they will not be able to afford a procedure or treatment, financing could be an option even beforehand. While doctors usually offer financing, this is usually at a very high interest rate. Because of that, one could either open a new credit card with zero percent interest or apply for a personal loan.

Lastly, if medical debt is still crippling even after debt relief options are completed, debtors should understand they still have options available. He or she could file for bankruptcy; however, the hospital or medical office should be informed of this decision. This could help prompt them to settle or negotiate the debt in order to avoid the bankruptcy process.

According to recent data, roughly 43 million Americans currently have overdue medical bills on their credit report. This signifies a serious issue and whether it is due to high deductibles or necessary procedures not being covered by insurance, it is important that patients have a way out of medical debt. Those struggling with medical debt should understand the debt relief options available to them, helping them achieve a healthy financial future.

Source: Dailyfinance.com, "4 Ways to Deal With Medical Debt," Nick Clements, April 29, 2015

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