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Are you medical bill savvy?

Medical bills aren't an expense that every person has to deal with right now, but they are certainly a potential expense for almost anyone in the United States. Even if you have insurance, you could end up owing thousands of dollars out of pocket if you face a large medical crisis, so it's helpful to know what to do when medical bills hit your mailbox.

Here's what not to do: Don't throw the bills away, and don't stuff them in a drawer or folder for "later." It might sound like common sense, but the number of people who ignore medical bills is actually quite large. Most people who continuously shift medical debt to the back burner aren't looking to skip out on debt they legitimately owe. They are intimidated, stressed and overwhelmed by what might seem like an impossible situation.

While medical debt might seem impossible to deal with when you first open the bill, it is possible to deal with this financial situation and move on. It's time to become medical bill savvy.

First, take time to validate every bill. Medical facilities are not known for having the most accurate billing processes. Compare each bill to statements from your insurance company to ensure that all credits have been applied, and don't be afraid to ask for the details. Hospitals and other providers should be able to provide you with a detailed breakdown of charges if you ask for it.

Next, don't be afraid to talk to provider billing departments, and ask for a discount when you do. They might say no, but they also might say yes. Almost any provider will also work with you to pay bills over time, and many have financial assistance programs.

Finally, if medical bills are only one symptom of your financial duress, consider options such as bankruptcy. Speak with a lawyer to find out how filing for bankruptcy can impact all of your debts, including medical bills.

Source: Money Under 30, "What To Do When You Get Medical Bills You Can’t Afford," Patty Lamberti, accessed July 15, 2016

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