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What are your options for managing medical debt?

Even for people who have a good health insurance plan, a serious injury or illness can end up costing many thousands of dollars even after the insurance company pays their portion of the bills. It's no wonder that so many bankruptcies are the result of medical debt. If you're facing more medical bills than you can financially handle, there are steps you can take to reduce the burden and make your medical debt manageable.

It's important not to let your bills become overdue. If you anticipate a problem paying them, it's best to communicate with the health care provider, whether it is your doctor, a hospital or a lab. If you explain your financial situation and provide documentation showing that your insurance company has paid the bulk of the bills, they may waive the amount you owe. If that doesn't work, you can try to work out a payment plan where you pay a portion of what you owe each month.

Whatever arrangement you try to work out, it's best to deal directly with your health care provider rather than a billing service. If you reach an arrangement, be sure to get it in writing.

If you're facing overwhelming hospital bills, you should know that under federal law, hospitals and other medical facilities who receive money from the government are required to provide reduced-cost or free services for patients who qualify. You can find out if the facility where you were treated is covered under the Hill-Burton Act and get more information about it by going to the website for the Health Resources and Services Administration.

If you're unable to resolve your medical debt issues with your providers, you may want to contact an Arizona bankruptcy attorney. He or she can work to help you reach an agreement with your providers, avoid levies and/or wage garnishments and determine whether bankruptcy is the best option for dealing with this debt.

Source: Bankrate.com, "How to pay huge medical bills on a small income," Steve Bucci, accessed Aug. 31, 2016

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