When you suffered a medical emergency, you had no idea how much it would affect you. You went from working over 40 hours a week at a well-paid job to not being able to work at all. You fell behind on your bills despite having insurance and are still struggling now, even though you’re on the way to recovering.
Your situation is not unique. Many people in the United States struggle to pay their medical bills after a medical emergency. In one study from 2019, it was found that 530,000 families turn to bankruptcy each year because of medical bills that they can’t afford to pay.
Is bankruptcy the only option?
You may be surprised to know that it isn’t, but it may be the right choice depending on your circumstances.
To begin with, you do need to check your medical bills for errors. Contact the accounting department at the hospital to talk about the bills and clear up any confusing information.
After that, ask about settling the debt. Can you negotiate down the rates to competitors’ rates? Is there a lump sum that you could pay that they’d accept to settle the debt?
Once you look into these options, you should also ask about services that the hospital provides to finance operations or services. Sometimes, charities work with hospital to pay off bills for people below a certain income level or when they have specific kinds of treatments performed.
What happens if you’ve tried these things without good results?
Whether you are on a payment plan or aren’t able to be on one, you may find that your debt is still overwhelming. If that’s the case, you might consider bankruptcy as your best bet. Why? If you qualify, it may allow you to discharge your medical debts completely, so you don’t have to pay them back.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is good for situations like yours, since you may have no income and no way to pay what you owe. Even with a modest income, you may still qualify and be able to have your bills discharged, so you can get back to focusing on more important parts of your life.