Coping with Medical Bills
If you are one of the millions of people struggling to pay medical bills you should be aware of the steps you can take to reduce or manage your debt.
- Don’t ignore your bills, as it might be harder to straighten out billing mistakes or get financial assistance if you wait.
- Once you get a bill make sure the charges are correct and make sure your insurance has paid what it should.
- Check your rights to appeal. The explanation of benefits notice given by your insurance company should tell you about your rights.
- If you are unable to resolve a billing dispute with a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office you can contact either Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection or the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance
- Be careful how you pay. Create a list of other debts and bills and figure out which to pay first.
- Try not to use credit cards to pay medical bills. Credit cards tend to have high interest rates and harsh penalties for late payments.
- If your hospital or health care provider has turned your bill over to a collection agency, you are protected against harassment by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection provides information on your rights and how to deal with debt collection agencies.
- A decision to file for bankruptcy should be one of last resort.
- If you need free legal information or services you can contact the Legal Aid Georgia
If you cannot afford to pay:
- Find out if your child may be eligible for PeachCare For Kids or Katie Beckett/ Deeming Waiver Medicaid.
- Apply for financial assistance from the hospital or medical provider. Many hospitals like Children’s Health Care of Atlanta offers financial assistance options for families. Other health care providers such as doctors; clinics, etc. might have some financial assistance programs.
- Try to negotiate a payment plan.
- Seek credit counseling from a licensed credit counseling agency.
- Call Parent to Parent of Georgia at 770-451-5484 to get information about other resources for financial assistance.
Credits: A consumer’s guide to coping with medical debt —Family Voices
Coping With Medical Bills and Debt–Wisconsin Department of Health Services