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Can medical debt lead to consumer bankruptcy?

When a Maryland resident falls ill or is seriously injured, the cost of receiving necessary medical treatment can be astounding. As the patient and his or her family work to adjust to the physical aftermath, the bills begin rolling in. Often, it seems as though there is no way out of the spiraling medical debt scenario. It is possible to negotiate with medical service providers, which can help reduce the costs associated with an illness or injury. However, It is important to know that consumer bankruptcy is also a debt relief option, should negotiation fail to bring the desired results.

When preparing to negotiate directly with a medical provider or hospital, the first step is to be as organized in these efforts as possible. Gather and file all bills and insurance statements prior to contacting a given office. Once this information is in hand, look over the charges carefully, checking to see that the charges are for services that were actually received. Medical bills often contain errors, and finding these mistakes can shave thousands off of the overall cost of care.

Next, be prepared to negotiate for lower rates or reduced charges for certain services. Medical providers want to be paid for the care they have given, and are often willing to negotiate on their charges in order to obtain payment. They know that if the patient files for bankruptcy, their ability to collect these charges will be eliminated. This gives them plenty of motivation to negotiate when possible.

In some cases, taking the above steps will reduce medical debt to a manageable level. For some in Maryland, however, no amount of negotiation can reduce bills to a point where repayment is financially possible. In such cases, a more aggressive path toward debt relief is possible, which is available in the form of a consumer bankruptcy filing. Bankruptcy, while no one's first choice, allows for the elimination of various forms of consumer debt, including medical debt.

Source: wfmynews2.com, "Medical Debt: How To Manage It & Ways To Negotiate Your Bill", , July 16, 2014

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